Mazatec people performing a Salvia ritual dance in Huautla de Jiménez
Brugmansia suaveolens, one of a group of species referred to as angel’s trumpets. Brugmansia plants are rich in the chemical compound scopolamine, an example of an entheogen. Brugmansia has been cultivated by native tribes in South America for this reason.
Laboratory synthetic mescaline. Mescaline was the first (1887) psychedelic compound to be extracted and isolated from nature (from peyote).
Flowering San Pedro, an entheogenic cactus that has been used for over 3,000 years. Today the vast majority of extracted mescaline is from columnar cacti, not vulnerable peyote.
2C-B is an entactogen commonly used at public places, like rave parties.
The shrine at Tel Arad, where the earliest use of cannabis in the Near East is thought to have occurred during the Kingdom of Judah
Fresco of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, flanking an alleged "mushroom tree" at Plaincourault Chapel, a 12th-century chapel of the Knights Hospitaller in Mérigny, Indre, France.
A Native American peyote drummer Quanah Parker (c. 1927)
Salvia divinorum (Herba de Maria)
Mandala-like round window above the altar at Boston University's Marsh Chapel, site of Marsh Chapel Experiment

Entheogens are psychoactive substances that induce alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior for the purposes of engendering spiritual development or otherwise in sacred contexts.

- Entheogen

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Sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence.

The use of Latin in a Tridentine Catholic Mass is an example of a "restricted code".
The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930). The painting shows common misconceptions about the event that persist to modern times: Pilgrims did not wear such outfits, and the Wampanoag are dressed in the style of Plains Indians.
Ritual practitioner on Inwangsan Mountain, Seoul South Korea
The "capping" ceremony is one of the principle rites of the Confucian ritual religion, alongside marriage, mourning rites, and sacrificial rituals
Aztec ritual human sacrifices, Codex Mendoza.
Hindu fire offering ritual during Durga Puja in Bangladesh
Masquerade at the Carnival of Venice.
Parade through Macao, Latin City (2019). The Parade is held annually on December 20th to mark the anniversary of Macao's Handover to China
Kowtowing in a court, China, before 1889
Balinese rice terraces regulated through ritual.
Scriptorium-monk-at-work. "Monks described this labor of transcribing manuscripts as being 'like prayer and fasting, a means of correcting one's unruly passions.'"
This Lutheran pastor administers the rite of confirmation on youth confirmands after instructing them in Luther's Small Catechism.

The rites of past and present societies have typically involved special gestures and words, recitation of fixed texts, performance of special music, songs or dances, processions, manipulation of certain objects, use of special dresses, consumption of special food, drink, or drugs, and much more.


South American psychoactive brew used both socially and as ceremonial spiritual medicine among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin.

Ayahuasca cooking in the Loreto region of Peru
Ayahuasca being prepared in Ecuador
Ayahuasca being prepared in the Napo region of Ecuador
Ayahuasca cooking
Syrian rue seeds can be used to provide an MAOI
Molecular structure of harmine
Molecular structure of harmaline
Molecular structure of tetrahydroharmine

It is a psychedelic and entheogenic mixed drink brew commonly made out of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, the Psychotria viridis shrub or a substitute, and possibly other ingredients.

Psychedelic drug

To trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness .

Synthetic mescaline. Normally biosynthesized from peyote and some other cacti, mescaline was the first psychedelic compound to be extracted and isolated.
5-HT2A receptor
Doses of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
Psilocybin session at Johns Hopkins
Preparation of Ayahuasca, Province of Pastaza, Ecuador.
Psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane in 1967

Recently, the term entheogenic has come into use to denote the use of psychedelic drugs, as well as various other types of psychoactive substances, in a religious, spiritual, and mystical context.


Small, spineless cactus which contains psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline.

A group of Lophophora williamsii.
A flowering peyote.
Lophophora williamsii seedling at roughly 1 1⁄2 months of age
Range of wild peyote
Dried Lophophora williamsii slices ("Peyote Buttons") with a US 5 cent coin (21 mm, 0.8 in)) for scale
Chemical structure of hordenine (peyocactin), an antimicrobial compound contained in the peyote cactus
Peyote in Wirikuta, Mexico
A Native American Peyote Drummer (circa 1927)

Known for its psychoactive properties when ingested, peyote has at least 5,500 years of entheogenic and medicinal use by indigenous North Americans.

Datura stramonium

Species of flowering plant in the nightshade family Solanaceae.

Mature (left) and immature (right) seed capsules
Fruits and seeds – MHNT
D. stramonium var. tatula, flower (front)
Seed capsule, showing dehiscence of the four valves to release seeds

It has also been used as a hallucinogen (of the anticholinergic/antimuscarinic, deliriant type), taken entheogenically to cause intense, sacred or occult visions.

Cannabis (drug)

Psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant.

Close-up of flowering cannabis plant
Main short-term physical effects of cannabis
A joint prior to rolling, with a paper handmade filter on the left
Addiction experts in psychiatry, chemistry, pharmacology, forensic science, epidemiology, and the police and legal services engaged in delphic analysis regarding 20 popular recreational drugs. Cannabis was ranked 11th in dependence, 17th in physical harm, and 10th in social harm.
Types of cannabis
A macro cannabis bud
Present-day map of the Jirzankal Cemetery, site of the earliest evidence of cannabis smoking
Cannabis sativa from Vienna Dioscurides, c. 512 CE
Anti-Cannabis propaganda from 1935
Cannabis indica fluid extract, American Druggists Syndicate (pre-1937)
Process of making bhang in a Sikh village in Punjab, India. On the Hindu and Sikh festival of colors called Holi, it is a customary addition to some intoxicating drinks.
countries that have legalized medical use of cannabis
Example of a container and the recreational cannabis purchase in Canada.
Woman selling cannabis and bhang in Guwahati, Assam, India
Dried flower buds (marijuana)
A gram of kief
Hash oil
Infusion (dairy butter)

Native to Central and South Asia, the cannabis plant has been used as a drug for both recreational and entheogenic purposes and in various traditional medicines for centuries.

Psilocybin mushroom

Psilocybin mushrooms; commonly known as magic mushrooms, mushrooms, are a polyphyletic informal group of fungi that contain psilocybin which turns into psilocin upon ingestion.

Psilocybe semilanceata
Pre-Columbian mushroom stones
Psilocybe mexicana
Global distribution of 100+ psychoactive species of genus Psilocybe mushrooms.
Despite risks, mushrooms do much less damage in the UK than other recreational drugs.
A bag of 1.5 grams of dried psilocybe cubensis mushrooms.
Psilocybe allenii

The popularization of entheogens by the Wassons, Leary, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson and many others led to an explosion in the use of psilocybin mushrooms throughout the world.

Amanita muscaria

Basidiomycete of the genus Amanita.

Showing the partial veil under the cap dropping away to form a ring around the stipe
Amanita muscaria var. formosa is now a synonym for Amanita muscaria var. guessowii.
Cross section of fruiting body, showing pigment under skin and free gills
A. muscaria in a Pinus radiata plantation, near Mount Field National Park, Tasmania
Mature. The white spots may wash off with heavy rainfall.
Muscimol, the principal psychoactive constituent of A. muscaria
Ibotenic acid, a prodrug to muscimol found in A. muscaria
Photographed in Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Amanita muscaria, Eastern Siberia
Mosaic of red mushrooms, found in the Christian Basilica of Aquileia in northern Italy, dating to before 330 AD
Moritz von Schwind's 1851 painting of Rübezahl features fly agarics.

A local variety of the mushroom was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the indigenous peoples of Siberia and by the Sámi, and has a religious significance in these cultures.


Religious practice that involves a practitioner interacting with what they believe to be a spirit world through altered states of consciousness, such as trance.

The earliest known depiction of a Siberian shaman, by the Dutch Nicolaes Witsen, 17th century. Witsen called him a "priest of the Devil" and drew clawed feet for the supposed demonic qualities.
A shaman, probably Khakas, Russian Empire, 1908
A tableau presenting figures of various cultures filling in mediator-like roles, often being termed as "shaman" in the literature. The tableau presents the diversity of this concept.
Flowering San Pedro, an entheogenic cactus that has been used for over 3,000 years. Today the vast majority of extracted mescaline is from columnar cacti, not vulnerable peyote.
Goldes shaman priest in his regalia
South Moluccan shaman in an exorcism ritual involving children, Buru, Indonesia (1920)
A shaman of the Itneg people in the Philippines renewing an offering to the spirit (anito) of a warrior's shield (kalasag) (1922)
Sámi ''noaidi with his drum
A shaman doctor of Kyzyl, 2005. Attempts are being made to preserve and revitalize Tuvan shamanism: former authentic shamans have begun to practice again, and young apprentices are being educated in an organized way.
Map of shamanism across the world

Generally, shamans traverse the axis mundi and enter the "spirit world" by effecting a transition of consciousness, entering into an ecstatic trance, either autohypnotically or through the use of entheogens or ritual performances.

Richard Evans Schultes

American biologist.

In the Amazon, c. 1940

He worked on entheogenic or hallucinogenic plants, particularly in Mexico and the Amazon, involving lifelong collaborations with chemists.