Four Legal Entheogens for the Spiritual Explorer

Throughout human history, spiritual seekers have used sacred plants and fungi for healing, visionary encounters, and mystical experience. Though this history has been largely obfuscated by prohibitionist attitudes and misinformation, entheogens — substances that “generate the experience of God within” — hold a special place in the development of world religions and countless spiritual traditions. “Psychedelics,” as entheogens are often called, were not something discovered in the counter-cultural ’60s, but in fact can be traced back to the very dawn of human cultures. Many of the earliest human artifacts — from mushroom shaman effigies in prehistoric African cave paintings to marijuana incense burners in shrines in ancient Europe — depict entheogenic fungi and plants with clear associations to ritual and religious activity. The “foods of the gods” have been with us from the beginning. It was not just tribal religions and small-scale traditions that made use of such sacraments. In complete reversal of the Catholic interpretation of the Eden story, Gnostic Christians understood th …

Martin W. Ball, Ph.D., is an independent researcher focused on the interface between spiritual awakening and entheogenic experience. He received his Ph.D. from UCSB in religious studies with an emphasis on Native American traditions, shamanism, and comparative mysticism. He is the author of several books on entheogenic spirituality, including his latest, Entheologues: Conversations with Leading Psychedelic Thinkers, Explorers, and Researchers, featuring interviews from his weekly podcast, “The Entheogenic Evolution.” Martin’s podcast can be found at, and his books and music can be found at his Web page,

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