TWH – When psychonaut Stephen Gray writes “What a long, strange trip it’s been,” he’s playfully referencing that Grateful Dead album with the same title. But Gray is after bigger game: The “trip” he’s actually citing is humankind’s “incredibly rich history of plant-entangled religion and magic,” as he writes in the forward to the book Psychedelic Mystery Traditions: Spirit Plants, Magical Practices, Ecstatic States by Thomas Hatsis. For Pagans who refer to their practice as an “earth-based spirituality” or “nature spirituality” (see circlesanctuary.org), those terms can carry various meanings. For Pagans whose paths include entheogens, “earth-based” is a very literal term. The website oxforddictionaries.com defines entheogen as “a chemical substance, typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce a non-ordinary state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes.” The term dates only to the 1970s, and its Greek roots literally mean “becoming divine within.”
The Oxford site reports the word was “coined by an informal committee studying the inebriants of shamans.”
A psychonaut, by the way, is someone who explores altered states of consciousness — especially but not always through hallucinogens — for spiritual or scientific purposes.