Soma: The Divine Hallucinogen

Soma: The Divine Hallucinogen

by David L. Spess

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780892817313
Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date: 08/28/2000
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

David Spess has a master's degree in microbiology/mycology and studied Sanskrit at the Naropa Institute. David has traveled throughout India and the Middle East researching this book. He was formerly a research mycologist for the FDA and has taught at the University of Colorado. He lives in New Mexico.

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments

Introduction


1. Soma and Sacred Herbalism in the Ancient World

2.
Light, Ecstatic States, and Other Effects of Soma

3.
The Identity of Plants Used as Soma

4.
The Asvins and the Elixir of Immortality

5.
Soma and the Origins of Alchemy

6.
Soma and the Origins of Western Magic

7.
Soma and European Alchemy


Notes

Bibliography

Index

What People are Saying About This

Joan Halifax

A noteworthy addition to the research on hallucinogens. (Joan Halifax, author of The Fruitful Darkness and Shamanic Voices)

From the Publisher

"In this meticulously researched, always scholarly but eminently readable study of Soma, the "elixir of immortality" and enlightenment of ancient India, David Spess takes us on a fascinating intellectual and spiritual journey way beyond Wasson's narrowly focused case for Amanita muscaria, the inebriating fly agaric mushroom of ecstatic Siberian shamanism. In a book thankfully free of both scientific and New Age jargon Spess presents convincing evidence that Soma's devotees knew of many different kinds and even colors of soma drinks with different associations and purposes, so that soma botany and taxonomy cannot be reduced to a single sacred plant species. A valuable contribution to both historical ethnobotany and comparative religion——and a good read."

"Spess makes a daring thesis—that Indo-Aryan ritualists created an entheogenic ceremony that eventually spread throughout all of Eurasia—and he argues cogently that soma and its rituals reached all of the great civilizations, creating alchemy and magic. This book reveals the history of the divine soma, not just in India, but in all subsequent searches for the golden germ and the elixir of immortality. A well-argued and convincing book, worth reading many times over!"

"This fascinating tour de force of impeccable scholarship, written with enviable elan, succeeds brilliantly in disclosing the elusive identity of the soma plants of India and their impact on the cultural history of China, Europe and the Near East. Provocative, intriguing, and sure to generate scholarly debate, this seminal work is absolutely essential for anyone interested in soma and hallucinogenic plants."

"Soma brilliantly completes the enquiry on the scientific and botanical aspects, as well as the anthropological and cultural development, of this very important subject. A magnificent book destined to become a classic."

"By far the most thorough survey of both the botanical and the psycho-spiritual aspects of the soma plant that I've ever seen. All I can do is congratulate the author."

"A noteworthy addition to the research on hallucinogens."

"This book comes highly recommended by Dr. Willard Johnson-my college professor of religious studies-and I second the vote for anyone interested in history, plant drugs, and the origins of Eastern Religion."

Wendy Doniger

By far the most thorough survey of both the botanical and the psycho-spiritual aspects of the soma plant that I've ever seen. All I can do is congratulate the author. (Wendy Doniger, coauthor of Soma: The Divine Mushroom of Immortality)

Oscar Ichazo

Soma brilliantly completes the enquiry on the scientific and botanical aspects, as well as the anthropological and cultural development, of this very important subject. A magnificent book destined to become a classic. (Oscar Ichazo, author of Psychocalisthenics and Between Metaphysica and Protoanalysis)

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