View Full Version : Entheogens or Psychedelics?

03-24-2012, 12:57 PM
And I agree that entheogen is the best word!

I disagree to my own statement in this thread: http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?977-Salvia-Divinorum-The-Diviner-s-Sage

I have changed my opinion after much thinking on the subject. Might seem like a pointless issue, but all the thinking I've done on trying to understand entheogens I discovered that the word does not fit. I think it should be called Psychedelics. Even though the word carries negative baggage (sounds more druggy) it is open to both the spiritual and experiential realms. The word does not deny nor imply God. At least not from my perspective.

I like the entheogen-styled Shamanic practices... but it is still a psychedelic experience... where the soul manifests. A full download... ?


03-26-2012, 01:20 AM
Maybe you're right, or perhaps labels/descriptions/words are part of the problem/division. We both know what they are as well as the experiences/dimensions/mind-states that are related to them. So I say call them what you will, they'll get us to where we need to go ;)

03-26-2012, 07:07 PM
If we were to find the best descriptive word to name these substances, what would it be? I was pondering this question again a little bit ago, and the word Keys came to mind. There are many forms of keys, and these varying 'keys' are able to open more than one type of 'lock'..

03-26-2012, 09:47 PM
A lesbian friend of mine always makes me laugh with the same joke, when he meets a new person she introduces herself saying: "Hello, I am homosexual".

I think her joke is about how some accurate words are quite laughable in some contexts.

I really have no problems with either of these words (Entheogens, Psychedelics), though I wouldn't use them unless I am writing some sort of academical essay (or trying to find a word for a sub-section of a forum).

The word "Psychedelic" is, at least for me, too related to a psychedelic subculture (the 60's, Tim Leary, Pink Floyd, etc, etc)... and gets a bit strange when it is used for a different context (i.e, stating that the Greek Mystery Cults were "psychedelic" is OK, but it sounds a bit strange).

04-07-2012, 07:09 PM
And I agree that entheogen is the best word!

Technically, I agree with the use of the word Entheogen, but it too has drawbacks. 'God [theo], generated [gen], within [en],' has the same difficulty as that biblical verse Luke 17:21, "...the kingdom of God is within you.' The Greek NT uses the -ento form rather than the -eso form, so that while the translation is often "within," the more accurate rendering is probably "in the midst of,'' which lends a more interpersonal flavor than an intrapersonal one. As an introvert, I have always been smitten by an esoteric Center found in my Heart, and so my spirituality has always been dominated by introspective contemplation rather than the preference of extraverted individuals, whom I discovered in seminary to prefer a 'social gospel' to any sort of mystical one.

Also, the word 'theo' suggests 'theism,' and I must agree in part with Heinrich Zimmer in his argument with Huston Smith that Entheogens (Mescaline in their case) does not "occasion" an experience of the theistic Deity of the Bible as much as a range of experiences from Pantheism to Panentheism, but generally not one of Theism. I agree in part only, because I have had an experience, undoubtedly of a 'Constructivist' type, on a Rosh Hashana, where I felt 'addressed by' the sky (so-to-speak). In other words, I felt like I was the subject of a Greater Awareness, and one that seemed personal. Shades of Hendrix's "...'scuze me while I kiss the sky..." as well as that old woodcut:


I detail this experience, along with others, in the book I've spent four summers working on: Psychedelic Sainthood, including definitions of both terms, a subtitle also, and why I decided upon Psychedelic over Entheogen. The Psychedelic subculture is more ingrained in the collective mentality of the American public over the past 50 years. Not only do I attempt to reframe the word Psychedelic, I do my utmost to reframe the word 'Saint,' which has been dominated by Catholic Christianity over Protestant or Orthodox Christianity. Meanwhile, the biblical usage does not indicate any ecclesiastical acknowledgement or criteria for three documented 'miracles.' Oh, I reframe the word miracle and identify it with the modern word 'synchronicity,' much the same as the ancient word Spirit has come to mean 'Consciousness.' Holy Spirit is a Holy Consciousness. The spiritual and psychological analogy is 'Spirit is to Consciousness, what Transcendental is to Transpersonal.' In the words of C.G. Jung:

"One cannot grasp anything metaphysically, but it can be done psychologically. Therefore I strip things of their metaphysical wrappings in order to make them objects of psychology. In this way I can at least extract something understandable from them and I can avail myself of it."

05-03-2012, 04:22 AM
If anyone 'grasps' what I'm saying, the Experience transcends any explanation. The Key is simple to come by, compared to most alchemical formulations. Jacob Boheme Knew this when he sketched Christi Testamenta:



08-05-2017, 09:05 PM
I like the entheogen-styled Shamanic practices... but it is still a psychedelic experience... where the soul manifests.

Interesting train of thought!

The term 'entheogen' was supposedly coined in the 1970's, and in my circle generally refers to a 'psychedelic' experience inducing plant, meaning synthetic substances (such as 2c-e) cannot be considered an entheogen by this definition, which is where I beg to differ. I like using the term only to describe natural, mostly-traditionally used plants that induce a 'spiritual' experience, but I do not feel as if that fully does the word justice, being that synthetic substances (like 4-ACO-DMT) can produce equally as revealing 'spiritual' experiences on par with wholly natural substances (for example psilocybin or psilocin). Which brings us to another question--what is truly 'natural' and what is 'synthetic'? If we can synthesize something, which obviously comes from something and not nothing, then is this (or anything!) truly 'synthetic'...

I am on the fence here, though if these terms must be defined, I would use the word 'entheogen' to describe a plant capable of inducing a spiritual experience and describe a 'psychedelic' (noun) as a substance capable of inducing a profoundly mind-altering state.

Ultimately, I would say that it is best to use to word 'entheogen' as a noun and use the world 'psychedelic' as an adjective only.

Fun discussion!

08-05-2017, 09:22 PM
Entheogen implies some sort of divinity, psychedelics implies something from within the mind. Although both terms fit my own view of these matters. The reason I prefer to use the term psychedelic is because "we simply do not know"... even if "I" do... and I think it is a nicer word... entheogen or entheogenic just don't sound good to my ears... and I think the word "theo" is too infected by "theology" and organised religion... psychedelics is a word that is more "free"... to each his own.

...what is truly 'natural' and what is 'synthetic'?

Well, in a sense everything is natural. However there is one major difference that I think people overlook when it concerns Iboga/Ayahuasca/Mushrooms, compared to DMT extraction and LSD. Whilst you can have a profound spiritual experience with all those psychedelic substances, the "natural" ones have other traits that DMT/LSD simply do not have... in a sense the "synthetic" substances are weaker as a whole... empty, in the sense that they don't unify with the physical body as much as, for example, ayahuasca does. Especially Iboga and Ayahuasca can create significant change and healing in the user without any visionary experience what so ever. This is simply not the case with LSD or smokable DMT. That is why the "natural" is more potent than the "synthetic", even if all of them can be powerful... but power is relative.

I also think that Iboga (not Ibogaine) is the most powerful psychedelic substance on the planet, and it "grows" ready so to speak, like Mushrooms. But psilocybin is like drinking water, if compared and in my humble opinion. There is a reason why the indigenous people do not call Ayahuasca or Iboga an entheogen. They do not call it a psychedelic either. They call it "medicine".

So really both those terms are incorrect, and the true term that should be used is: medicine or plant medicine


08-05-2017, 10:00 PM
I'm not sure why you're lumping DMT (extraction) with LSD (synthesis).

LSD is a psychedelic but not a naturally occurring entheogen. Like LSA and the rest of the alphabet soup crap I don't touch or recommend at all to anyone. (If you can get actual LSD-25 though, that is genuinely amazing. But know your chemist or you don't know what it is really)

DMT is the best example of a naturally occurring entheogen in that it is a normal human neurotransmitter.

Back to the topic, I use both pretty much interchangeably but use entheogen when I'm trying to speak in a technical sense.

08-05-2017, 10:28 PM
You make a good point, however DMT when smoked (from extraction) is more similar in "vibe" to LSD (not talking effect)... meaning that it is just the "DMT" or "LSD" in the substance... it lacks the cradle it comes from. If that makes sense? When you eat Iboga, or drink Ayahuasca, then the "substance" that is psychedelic is there together with the "natural" cradle... not empty, alone and cold in a clinical form. Unless you lick the DMT from a frog. ;)

It is all natural, but I don't think LSD will ever be as powerful a "medicine" as Iboga or Ayahuasca... even if it was as strong as those two... it simply lacks "soul". IMO. Doesn't mean it can be great regardless, but I am interested Formula 1... not bicycles.

The great thing with plant medicines is that it is a personal affair, meaning "don't listen to me"... I am just saying how I feel.


Spin-off topic here: THE PURGE (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?5336-The-Purge)