Ethnomycological Evidence, Indo-European Entheogens and Soma mushrooms

An old article, but of interest as it's not as widely known as one would think. Very interesting for those studying the various soma/haoma and shamanic cultures of the Indo-Europeans.

“We Drank Soma, We Became Immortal…”

“We Drank Soma, We Became Immortal…”

Inside a deep Xiongnu grave hidden in the thickly wooded Sudzuktè pass, on the bottom of the burial chamber, archaeologists, participants of the Russian-Mongolian expedition, found what they had long been searching for: a layer of clay revealing the outline of textile relics. The fragments of the textile found were parts of a carpet composed of several cloths of dark-red woolen fabric. The time-worn cloth found on the floor covered with blue clay of the Xiongnu burial chamber and brought back to life by restorers has a long and complicated story. It was made someplace in Syria or Palestine, embroidered, probably, in north-western India and found in Mongolia.

Finding it two thousand years later is a pure chance; its amazingly good condition is almost a miracle. How it made its way to the grave of a person it was not meant for will long, if not forever, remain a mystery. Of greatest surprise though was the unique embroidery made from wool. Its pattern was the ancient Zoroastrian ceremony, of which the principal personage was …a mushroom. In the center of the composition to the left of the altar is the king (priest), who is holding a mushroom over the fire. The «divine mushroom» embroidered on the carpet resembles well-known psychoactive species Psilocybe cubensis.

The Eleusinian Mysteries were the oldest religious festivities held in ancient Greece and dedicated to Demeter and her daughter Persephone, spouse to the underworld ruler Hades. The participants of the Mysteries ritually went through death and rebirth. It is known that the initiates were promised rewards in the afterlife. Those who had experienced the mystical death firmly believed that for them a new life would begin after death. “Happy is he who has seen this before sinking into the grave: he knows the end of life and he knows its god-given beginning.” (Pindar)

What particular rites made the initiates think of death with joy is not known. From of old, divulging the secret rituals was punishable by death. It is only known that the initiates were to live through and gain their own religious experience; there is evidence that the participants of the Mysteries had visions of images beyond thought. The prominent philosopher and Orientalist Ye. A. Torchinov puts it straightforwardly: “The Eleusis mystery is the mystery of psycho-technical experience of death and rebirth that purifies and integrates the myst psyche…” (1997, p. 145).

The weight of evidence suggests that soma, the ancient ritual drink, has been prepared from the mushrooms of family Strophariaceae which contain the unique nervous system stimulator psilocybin

POLOSMAK V. NATALIA, 2010, “We drank soma, we became immortal…”, Science First Hand, vol. 26(2), pp. 62-71.