• The first book to identify the mysterious soma plant.
• A breakthrough book that reenvisions the role of psychoactive plants in religion.
Soma has been shrouded in mystery for centuries. It is simultaneously a sacred hallucinogenic plant used in secret rituals, a personified God, and an important cosmological principle. Summarizing all previous research on the subject, David Spess goes far beyond his predecessors and shows that soma provides an important key to the understanding of the earliest systemized methods of medicine, psychology, magic, rejuvenation, longevity, and alchemy. Most significant is that his intensive research provides the most compelling case yet for actual identification of the plants that served as the basis for the divine hallucinogen Nelumbo nucifera, the sacred lotus of India, as well as some members of the Nymphaea genus.
With the renewed interest in the ritual use of psychoactive substances, shamanism, psychic phenomena, and alternative modalities of healing, Soma provides a much needed bridge between Eastern and Western esoteric traditions. Contained within the enigmatic verses about soma in the Rig Veda is a secret about ourselves and the nature of our relationship to the world and cosmos. Soma makes this knowledge available to us once again.
|Publisher:||Inner Traditions/Bear & Company|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Table of Contents
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
What People are Saying About This
A noteworthy addition to the research on hallucinogens. (Joan Halifax, author of The Fruitful Darkness and Shamanic Voices)
"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 religionand a good read."
"Spess makes a daring thesisthat Indo-Aryan ritualists created an entheogenic ceremony that eventually spread throughout all of Eurasiaand 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."
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)
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)