Skip to Main Content

Entheogens and the Future of Religion

Edited by Robert Forte

A study of the importance of psychedelic plants and drugs in religion and society

• With contributions by Albert Hofmann, R. Gordon Wasson, Jack Kornfield, Terence McKenna, the Shulgins, Rick Strassman, and others

• Explores the importance of academic and religious freedom in the study of psychedelics and the mind

• Exposes the need for an organized spiritual context for entheogen use in order to fully realize their transformative and sacred value

We live in a time when a great many voices are calling for a spiritual renewal to address the problems that face humanity, yet the way of entheogens--one of the oldest and most widespread means of attaining a religious experience--is forbidden, surrounded by controversy and misunderstanding. Widely employed in traditional shamanic societies, entheogens figure prominently in the origins of religion and their use continues today throughout the world. They alter consciousness in such a profound way that, depending on the set and setting, they can produce the ultimate human experiences: union with God or revelation of other mystical realities.

With contributions by Albert Hofmann, Terence McKenna, Ann and Alexander Shulgin, Thomas Riedlinger, Dale Pendell, and Rick Strassman as well as interviews with R. Gordon Wasson and Jack Kornfield, this book explores ancient and modern uses of psychedelic drugs, emphasizing the complementary relationship between science and mystical experience and the importance of psychedelics to the future of religion and society. Revealing the mystical-religious possibilities of substances such as psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline, and LSD, this book exposes the vital need for developing an organized spiritual context for their use in order to fully realize their transformative and sacred value. Stressing the importance of academic and religious freedom, the authors call for a revival of scientific and religious inquiry into entheogens so they may be used safely and legally by those seeking to cultivate their spiritual awareness.

“This book provides a balanced, thoroughly researched, and clear account about a topic that has fascinated people for centuries--even millennia--and will be with us, one way or another, for a long time to come.”

– Harvey Cox, Ph.D., professor of divinity at Harvard University and author of The Future of Faith

“This book of essays plows new ground in the relationship between entheogens and religion. It is well worth reading. Any path that can bring the human family closer together should be investigated.”

– Rev. Dr. Kenneth B. Smith, president of the Chicago Theology Seminary

“An important book for anyone who cares about the future of the human race. The sensible use of entheogens is one of most promising paths to deep spiritual insight for many people, and this book shows how that could be done--if we care enough.”

– Charles T. Tart, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology, University of California

“We have long needed this well-articulated, thoughtful, and rational basis for understanding the power of psychedelic biomechanicals to stimulate visionary experience. These essays make a strong case for the use of these substances in future religious practice.”

– Frank Barron, Ph.D., Sc.D., author of No Rootless Flower: An Ecology of Creativity

“If you want more than emotional and subjective outpourings about entheogens, and if you think like I do that unless we expand our awareness we will not have a happy future, then this is a book to read.”

– Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, author of From Age-ing to Sage-ing

“...the book represents a call for a revival of scientific and religious inquiry into entheogens as a means of cultivating spiritual awareness.”

– The Scientific and Medical Network, July 2012

“Offers a thoughtful, sane examination of a topic of great social, psychological, and religious significance.”

– Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of California

“Essential reading for everyone concerned with spiritual, psychological, and social well-being. A fascinating and significant collection.”

– Frances Vaughan, Ph.D., author of Shadows of the Sacred and The Inward Arc

“Collectively, these essays constitute the best single inquiry into the religious significance of chemically occasioned mystical experiences that has yet appeared.”

– Huston Smith, Ph.D., author of The World’s Religions