List of substances used in rituals

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This page lists substances used in ritualistic context.

Psychoactive use[edit]

Entheogens[edit]

This is a list of species and genera that are used as entheogens or are used in an entheogenic concoction (such as ayahuasca). For ritualistic use they may be classified as hallucinogens. The active principles and historical significance of each are also listed to illustrate the requirements necessary to be categorized as an entheogen. The psychoactive substances are usually classified as soft drugs in terms of drug harmfulness.

Animal[edit]

Vernacular name Species Phytochemical(s) Substance effect class Regions/Cultures of use
Bufotoxins Bufo alvarius (and other Bufo spp.) Secretion: 5-MeO-DMT, bufotenin (et al) Psychedelic Bufo alvarious secretion has gained popularity in spiritual retreats.[1] Controversial interpretation of Mesoamerican art.
Bullet ant venom Paraponera clavata Secretion: Poneratoxin Deliriant The Satere-Mawe people use bullet ants to get extremely painful stings in their initiation rites twenty times.[2]

Mushroom[edit]

Vernacular name Species Phytochemical(s) Substance effect class Regions/Cultures of use
Dictyonema huaorani Dictyonema huaorani 5-MeO-DMT, DMT, psilocybin Psychedelic Confirmed used by shamans.[3]
Fly agaric Amanita muscaria Muscimol, ibotenic acid Depressant, and dissociative Siberian shamans.[4] Scandinavia. The Soma drink of India.
Panther cap Amanita pantherina Muscimol, ibotenic acid Depressant, and dissociative
Psilocybin mushroom Psilocybe spp. (etc) Psilocybin and psilocin;
baeocystin and norbaeocystin (some species)
Psychedelic Mazatec[5]

Plant[edit]

Vernacular name Species Phytochemical(s) Substance effect class Regions/Cultures of use
African dream herb Entada rheedii Seed Oneirogen The species is employed in African traditional medicine to induce vivid dreams, enabling communication with the spirit world. The inner meat of the seed would be either consumed directly, or the meat would be chopped, dried, mixed with other herbs like tobacco and smoked just before sleep to induce the desired dreams.[6]
African dream root Silene undulata Root: Possibly triterpenoid saponins Oneirogen Xhosa people of South Africa.[7]
Angel's trumpet Brugmansia spp. Seed, flower, leaf: Tropane alkaloids Deliriant South America,[8] sometimes used as part of ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca Banisteriopsis caapi Bark: Harmine 0.31-0.84%,[9] tetrahydroharmine, telepathine, dihydroshihunine,[10] 5-MeO-DMT[11] Psychedelic South America; people of the Amazon Rainforest. UDV of Brazil and United States.
Bitter-grass Calea ternifolia Leaf: Caleicines and caleochromenes Oneirogen The Chontal people of Oaxaca reportedly use the plant, known locally as thle-pela-kano, during divination.
Bolivian torch cactus Echinopsis lageniformis Stem: Mescaline Psychedelic South America
Cannabis (and cannabis concentrates) Cannabis spp. Flower: Cannabinoids (THC, and CBD) Psychedelic Hindu religion in India, Rastafari movements, Cannabis-based religions like First Church of Cannabis or International Church of Cannabis and other various groups (see entheogenic use of cannabis)
Chacruna Psychotria viridis Leaf: DMT Psychedelic UDV of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and the Brazilian church. Santo Daime have used it as part of ayahuasca.
Chaliponga Diplopterys cabrerana Leaf: 5-MeO-DMT, bufotenin, DMT Psychedelic Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru as part of ayahuasca.
Changa A DMT/MAOI-infused smoking blend DMT/MAOI Psychedelic Changa has gained popularity in spiritual retreats.[citation needed]
Christmasvine Turbina corymbosa Seed: LSA, lysergol, and turbicoryn; up to 0.03% lysergic acid alkaloids[12] Psychedelic Mazatec[13]
Harmal (espand) Peganum harmala Seed: Harmaline and other harmala alkaloids Psychedelic Iran and the Middle East.
Hawaiian baby woodrose Argyreia nervosa Seed: 0.325% ergoline derivatives of dry weight.[14] Psychedelic Huna shamans used them according to various oral histories.[15]
Henbane Hyoscyamus niger Seed, flower, leaf: Tropane alkaloids Deliriant Ancient Greece and witches of the Middle Ages.
Iboga Tabernanthe iboga Root bark: Ibogaine[16] Psychedelic Bwiti] religion of West Central Africa. Used by Western nations to treat opioid addiction.
Jimson weed Datura stramonium Seed, flower, leaf: Tropane alkaloids[17] Deliriant Algonquin, Navajo, Cherokee, Luiseño and the indigenous peoples of Marie-Galante used this plant in sacred ceremonies for its hallucinogenic properties.[18][19][20] It has also been used by Sadhus of India, and the Táltos of the Magyar (Hungary).
Jurema Mimosa tenuiflora syn. Mimosa hostilis Root bark: 1-1.7% DMT[21] and yuremamine Psychedelic Used by the Jurema Cult (O Culto da Jurema) in the Northeastern Brazil.[22]
Labrador tea Rhododendron spp. Leaf: Ledol, some grayanotoxins Deliriant Caucasian peasants used Rhododendron plants for these effects in shamanistic rituals.[23]
Mad honey Rhododendron ponticum Nectar: Grayanotoxins Deliriant In Nepal, this type of honey is used by the Gurung people both for its supposed medicinal and hallucinogenic properties.[24][25]
Mexican morning glory Ipomoea tricolor Seed: Ergoline derivatives[26] (LSA disputed) Psychedelic Zapotecs[27]
Beach moonflower Ipomoea violacea Seed: Ergoline derivatives[26] (LSA disputed) Psychedelic Mazatec[13]
Nyakwána Virola elongata Bark, roots, leaves and flowers: DMT, and 5-MeO-DMT Psychedelic The Yanomami people use the powdered resin as an entheogen known as nyakwána which is inhaled or "snuffed" into the nasal cavity, it contains a high concentration of 5-MeO-DMT and DMT.[28]
Peruvian torch cactus Echinopsis peruviana Stem: Mescaline Psychedelic Pre-Incan Chavín rituals in Peru.
Peyote Lophophora williamsii Stem: Mescaline Psychedelic Native American Church is known as peyotism.[29][30] Alsu used in the Oshara Tradition.
Red ucuuba Virola sebifera Bark: DMT, and 5-MeO-DMT Psychedelic The smoke of the inner bark of the tree is used by shamans of the indigenous people of Venezuela in cases of fever conditions, or cooked for driving out evil ghosts.[31]
Salvia Salvia divinorum Leaf: Salvinorin A and other salvinorins Psychedelic Mazatec[32]
San Pedro cactus Echinopsis pachanoi Stem: Mescaline Psychedelic South America
Vilca Anadenanthera colubrina Beans: 5-MeO-DMT. Up to 12.4% bufotenin.[33] DMT Psychedelic There have been reports of active use of vilca by Wichi shamans, under the name hatáj.[34]
Yopo Anadenanthera peregrina Beans: 5-MeO-DMT. Up to 7.4% bufotenin.[35] DMT Psychedelic Archaeological evidence of insufflation use within the period 500-1000 AD, in northern Chile, has been reported.[36]

Chemicals[edit]

Many man-made chemicals with little human history have been recognized to catalyze intense spiritual experiences, and many synthetic entheogens are simply slight modifications of their naturally occurring counterparts. Some synthetic substances like 4-AcO-DMT are prodrugs that metabolize into psychoactive substances that have been used as entheogens. While synthetic DMT and mescaline are reported to have identical entheogenic qualities as extracted or plant-based sources, the experience may wildly vary due to the lack of numerous psychoactive alkaloids that constitute the material. This is similar to how isolated THC produces very different effects than an extract that retains the many cannabinoids of the plant such as cannabidiol and cannabinol. A pharmaceutical version of the entheogenic brew ayahuasca is called Pharmahuasca.

Substance IUPAC name Substance effect class Notes
2C-B 4-Bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenylethanamine Psychedelic 2C-B is used as entheogen by the Sangoma, Nyanga, and Amagqirha people over their traditional plants. It is referred to as Ubulawu Nomathotholo, which roughly translates to "Medicine of the Singing Ancestors".[37][38][39]
5-MeO-DMT 2-(5-Methoxy-1H-indol-3-yl)-N,N-dimethylethan-2-amine Psychedelic See species
Bufotenin 3-[2-(Dimethylamino)ethyl]-1H-indol-5-ol Psychedelic See species
DMT 2-(1H-Indol-3-yl)-N,N-dimethylethanamine Psychedelic See species
DPT N-[2-(1H-indol-3-yl)]ethyl-N-propylpropan-1-amine Psychedelic DPT is used as a religious sacrament by the Temple of the True Inner Light who believes that DPT and other entheogens are physical manifestations of God.[40]
Harmaline 7-methoxy-1-methyl-4,9-dihydro-3H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole Psychedelic See Peganum harmala
Ibogaine 12-Methoxyibogamine Psychedelic See Tabernanthe iboga
LSA (8β)-9,10-didehydro-6-methyl-ergoline-8-carboxamide Psychedelic See species
LSD (6aR,9R)-N,N-diethyl-7-methyl-4,6,6a,7,8,9-hexahydroindolo[4,3-fg]quinoline-9-carboxamide Psychedelic Used by League for Spiritual Discovery (LSD), and the Neo-American Church.
MDMA (RS)-1-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-N-methylpropan-2-amine Entactogen Small doses of MDMA are used as an entheogen to enhance prayer or meditation by some religious practitioners.[41]
Muscimol 5-(Aminomethyl)-isoxazol-3-ol Deliriant See Amanita spp.
Psilocybin [3-(2-Dimethylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate Psychedelic (See also Psilocybe spp) Prodrug for Psilocin. The Mazatec curandera María Sabina was celebrating a mushroom velada with pills of synthetic psilocybin named Indocybin synthesized by Albert Hofmann.[42]
Salvinorin A methyl (2S,4aR,6aR,7R,9S,10aS,10bR)-9-(acetyloxy)-2-(furan-3-yl)-6a,10b-dimethyl-4,10-dioxo-dodecahydro-1H-naphtho[2,1-c]pyran-7-carboxylate Psychedelic See Salvia divinorum

Prodrugs[edit]

Substance IUPAC name Substance effect class Notes
1A-LSD (6aR,9R)-4-acetyl-N,N-diethyl-7-methyl-4,6,6a,7,8,9-hexahydroindolo[4,3-fg]quinoline-9-carboxamide Psychedelic Prodrug (suspected) for LSD
1P-LSD (6aR,9R)-N,N-Diethyl-7-methyl-4-propanoyl-6,6a,8,9-tetrahydroindolo[4,3-fg]quinoline-9-carboxamide Psychedelic Prodrug (suspected) for LSD
4-AcO-DMT 3-[2-(Dimethylamino)ethyl]-1H-indol-4-yl acetate Psychedelic Prodrug for psilocin (found in psilocybin mushroom, see also psilocybin)

This page lists non-psychedelic psychoactive substances which are consumed in ritual contexts for their consciousness-altering effects. Non-psychoactive consumption like symbolic ingestion of psychoactive substances is not mentioned here.

Non-psychedelic substances used in rituals[edit]

This is a lists of psychoactive substances which are consumed in ritual contexts for their consciousness-altering effects. Some of these drugs are classified as hard drugs in terms of drug harmfulness.

Animal[edit]

Vernacular name Species Phytochemical(s) Substance effect class Regions/Cultures of use
Kambo (or sapo) Phyllomedusa bicolor Secretion: Opioid peptides (deltorphin, deltorphin I, deltorphin II and dermorphin).[43][44][45] Depressant Increasing popularity in cleansing rituals and depression treatment.[46][47][48]

Plant[edit]

The plant parts are listed to prevent accidents. For example, kava roots should always be used because the leaves of the plant are known to cause hepatoxicity and death.[49]

Vernacular name Species Phytochemical(s) Substance effect class Regions/Cultures of use
Alcohol Yeast byproduct: Alcohol fermented species Alcohol Depressant During the Jewish holiday of Purim, Jews are obligated to drink until their judgmental abilities become impaired.[50][51]
Aztec tobacco Nicotiana rustica Leaf: up to 9% nicotine.[52] MAOI beta-carbolines. Stimulant Mapacho (South America)[53] and thuoc lao (thuốc lào) (Vietnam). Nicotiana rustica is used by Amazonian tobacco shamans known as tobaqueros.[54] Nicotiana rustica is a Vernacular ingredient of Ayahuasca in some parts of the Amazon.[55]
Blue water lily Nymphaea caerulea Flower: Aporphine, and nuciferine Depressant Mayans and the Ancient Egyptians.[56]
Chili pepper Capsicum spp. Fruit: Capsaicin Deliriant "While the Inca may have recognized chili’s potent spiritual medicine, they weren’t the only culture to do so. Chilies were mixed with tobacco and other plants by shamans and medicine people in pre-Columbian Central America to aid in journeys to the upper and lower worlds on behalf of mankind."[57]
Coca, coca tea Erythroxylaceae spp. Leaf: 0.3-1.5% cocaine[58] Stimulant Coca has been a vital part of the religious cosmology of the Andean peoples of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, northern Argentina, and Chile from the pre-Inca period through the present.[citation needed] In addition, coca use in shamanic rituals is well documented wherever local native populations have cultivated the plant. For example, the Tayronas of Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta use to chew the plant before engaging in extended meditation and prayer.[59]
Cocoa Theobroma cacao Bean: Theobromine, small amount of MAOIs, etc (see full list) Stimulant Ritualistic practices originated among the Olmec, Maya and Mexica (Aztec).[60]
Coffee Coffea spp. Seed: 0.06-3.2% caffeine[61] Stimulant The earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th century, in Yemen's Sufi monasteries.[62] The sufi monks drank coffee as an aid to concentration and even spiritual intoxication when they chanted the name of God.[63]
Corn beer Yeast byproduct: Corn (Zea mays), fermented Alcohol Depressant The corn beer Chicha de jora was once a sacred drink of the Incas, often reserved for the most cherished of ceremonies.[64]

Tesguino is a corn beer made by the Tarahumara people of the Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico. It is brewed for local celebrations related to Holy Week. For the Tarahumara, the beer is an elixir for healing, a barter item and is considered a sacred beverage.[65]

Ilex guayusa Ilex guayusa Leaves: 1.73–3.48 % caffeine.[66] Theanine Stimulant A ritual use by the Kichua people involves drinking guayusa infusion to have foretelling dreams for successful hunting expeditions.[67] Ilex guayusa is used in ayahuasca admixtures for its healing powers.[55]
Kava Piper methysticum Root: 3-20% kavalactones[68] Depressant Kava cultures are the religious and cultural traditions of western Oceania which consume kava.
Khat Catha edulis Leaf: Up to 14% cathine[69] Stimulant For centuries, religious leaders have consumed the leaves to stay awake during long nights of prayer.[70]
Kratom Mitragyna speciosa Leaves: Opioids (1–6% mitragynine, 0.01–0.04% 7-hydroxymitragynine[71]) Depressant In Thailand, kratom was "used as a snack to receive guests and was part of the ritual worship of ancestors and gods." (Saingam et al.)[72]
Opium, Opium poppy Papaver somniferum Latex exudate: 0.3–25% morphine and codeine 0.5-4%[73] Depressant From the earliest finds, opium appears to have had ritual significance, and anthropologists have speculated ancient priests may have used the drug as a proof of healing power.[74] In Egypt, the use of opium was generally restricted to priests, magicians, and warriors, its invention is credited to Thoth, and it was said to have been given by Isis to Ra as treatment for a headache.[75] A figure of the Minoan "goddess of the narcotics", wearing a crown of three opium poppies, BCE, was recovered from the Sanctuary of Gazi, Crete, together with a simple smoking apparatus.[76][77] The Greek gods Hypnos (Sleep), Nyx (Night), and Thanatos (Death) were depicted wreathed in poppies or holding them. Poppies also frequently adorned statues of Apollo, Asklepios, Pluto, Demeter, Aphrodite, Kybele and Isis, symbolizing nocturnal oblivion.[75] The opium poppy was a magical ritual plant among the Germanic tribes.[78]
Pituri Duboisia hopwoodii, Duboisia myoporoides, Nicotiana spp. Nicotine, tropane alkaloids A stimulant (or, after extended use, a depressant) chewed by Aboriginal Australians. Some authors use the term to refer only to the plant Duboisia hopwoodii and its leaves and any chewing mixture containing its leaves.[79]
Tea Camellia sinensis Leaf: 0.4-9.3% caffeine and theanine 0-5-1.4%[80] Stimulant Tea has been drunk by Buddhist monks since the Sui Dynasty (589–618 BC) to maintain a state of “mindful alertness” during long periods of meditation. Tea ceremonies have been ritualized for centuries.
Wine Yeast byproduct: Grape (Vitis spp.) (fermented) Alcohol Depressant Wine was used in rituals and worshipped by the Egyptians[81] and the Greeks, specifically in worship of Dionysus.
Beer Yeast byproduct: Barley ( Liquid Gold spp.) (fermented) Alcohol Depressant

Chemicals[edit]

Substance IUPAC name Substance effect class Notes
Alcohol Ethanol Depressant See Vitis spp.
Caffeine 1,3,7-Trimethylpurine-2,6-dione Stimulant See Coffea
Cathine (1S,2S)-2-amino-1-phenylpropan-1-ol Stimulant See Catha edulis
Cocaine Methyl (1R,2R,3S,5S)-3-(benzoyloxy)-8-methyl-8-azabicyclo[3.2.1]octane-2-carboxylate Stimulant Coca addicts ingest between 60 and 80 milligrams of cocaine each time they chew the leaves according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).[82] However, other sources claims that the coca leaf, when consumed in its natural form or as coca tea, does not induce a physiological or psychological dependence, nor does abstinence after long-term use produce symptoms typical to substance addiction.[83][84][85][86] See also Erythroxylum coca, and Erythroxylum novogranatense spp.
Codeine (5α,6α)-7,8-didehydro-4,5-epoxy-3-methoxy-17-methylmorphinan-6-ol Depressant Prodrug for morphine
Kavalactones Depressant See Piper methysticum
Morphine (4R,4aR,7S,7aR,12bS)-3-Methyl-2,3,4,4a,7,7a-hexahydro-1H-4,12-methanobenzofuro[3,2-e]isoquinoline-7,9-diol Depressant See Papaver somniferum

Sober use[edit]

Disclaimer: Salvia apiana and Bursera fagaroides do not contain any psychoactive substances at all, they are solely used for ritualistic purpose while Aztec tobacco, Morning glories, and Syrian rue (all listed in the #Psychoactive_use table), and Cacao Beans (mild) are psychoactive when consumed.

Flora[edit]

Vernacular name Species Use Regions/Cultures of use
Aztec tobacco Nicotiana rustica Incense [citation needed]
Cacao bean Theobroma cacao Ritual offering [citation needed]
Copal Bursera fagaroides Incense [citation needed]
Morning glory T. corymbosa, and I. violacea Numerology "indigenous ritual use indicates dose levels for T. corymbosa, and I. violacea which are far lower than that perceived as necessary to effect hallucinosis in members of modern Western cultures. In Mexico, the only place in the world where the ingestion of morning glory seeds has an established tradition of shamanic usage, a hallucinogenic dose is said to be only thirteen seeds, a ritual amount based on religious numerology rather than chemical analysis."[87][page needed]
Syrian rue Peganum harmala Incense "In the Himalayas, shamans use syrian rue seeds as a magical incense, inhaling it to enter a trance state in which they can engage in sexual intercourse with divining goddesses, who are said to give them information and great healing powers (Ratsch 1998, 426-427)."[88]
White Sage Salvia apiana Incense [citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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