- Paperback: 159 pages
- Publisher: Natural Products Co (1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0961423471
- ISBN-13: 978-0961423476
- Package Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,462,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Age of Entheogens & the Angels' Dictionary Paperback – 1995
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The Age of Entheogens is a call to draw us out of the Dark Ages in which we live into a brighter future where people can reconnect with the spirit through the immediate experience of the sacred with entheogens (sacred plants, hallucinogens, psychedelics or what have you) as our distant ancestors did before the world tree of knowledge and life was cut down to build the church of artifice, dominion and repression of the sacred within all of us.
The basic message is in essence the same as Terence McKenna's concept and book The Archaic Revival; that in the distant past humanity lived in harmony with Nature and in connection with the sacred through the shamanic use of vision plants; that history has been the story of the repression of this practice and thus the banishment from Eden; that religion, as an institution, is the flaming sword that bars us from reconnecting with the sacred and that as a society we would do well to now reconvene with that natural harmonious connection through the use of these sacred plants. This is the "Archaic Revival" that McKenna speaks of or the "Entheogenic Reformation" that Ott speaks of.
That having now been said, allow me to state that the way in which Ott and McKenna present this message are significantly different yet complimentary. McKenna's presentation is perhaps better suited to wider audiences and/or as an introduction to this quintessential important idea. Ott's presentation, on the other hand, seems to me to be much more suited for scholarly readers - people who require academic-style citations and references to foundational works already established and well respected or for people who have gotten McKenna's message and would now like to delve into the sober and scholarly knowledge that support it. Whereas skeptics may understandably dismiss McKenna's Archaic Revival as lacking in supporting evidence and pay the idea no further attention, Ott's Age of Entheogens would likely convince them - if they are at all reasonable - that this idea is at the very least very plausible and very important. On the other hand, the more general reader interested in entheogens may find Ott's Age of Entheogens too difficult, too bogged down by notes and details whereas these same people may be immediately swept up in McKenna's more fluid and easy-to-read Archaic Revival. Personally I find The Archaic Revival and the Age of Entheogens to be complimentary.
I will now turn from this comparative exercise and give Ott's book a much-deserved direct look.
The Age of Entheogens opens with Ott's Exordium, a tour de force. Here, in something like a manifesto, Ott shatters the empty hypocrisy of organized (non-experiential and non-vital) religions and the so-called "war on drugs". Here Ott triumphantly wins back the high ground for that real "old time religion"; the original, organic religion of direct experience of the spirit through entheogens.
The first chapter is entitled The Age of Entheogens. In recent history it has been the widely held position of orthodox anthropology that although what is called shamanism is the universal root of all religions, the shamanic use of psychoactive plants is a "decadent" form of shamanism as compared to shamanism that relies on what are classified as ordeals to alter consciousness (i.e. fasting, isolation, prolonged pain, marathon drumming and so-on). But, as Ott demonstrates, Wasson and other scholars have since shown that quite the opposite is the case; entheogen-based shamanism is indeed the original shamanism and it is only when no entheogens are available that shamans turn to other less effective techniques.
In the next chapter, The Pharmacratic Inquisition, Ott argues convincingly that the rise of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman empire meant the downfall of Western civilization into the Dark Ages in which all effort was made to eradicate science, independent thought and any practice involving entheogens and knowledge thereof. Central to this plunge into ignorance was the deliberate substitution of the ages old entheogenic sacrament provided to seekers in the Eleusinian mystery rites - the sacrament that gave one an undeniably profound experience - with the innate Christian Eucharist that gave no experience but which required faith in order to have any meaning at all. As Ott puts forth, it is no coincidence but rather a direct consequence that, "the forced imposition of Christianity as state religion in the reign of Constantine, far from being a progressive change, as Christians would have us think, plunged Europe into a millennium of atavism and book burning, of barbarous destruction and desecration of classical art and literature, in which the torch of science and learning, lit in such a promising fashion by the Greek philosophers, was all but extinguished, and during which the hard-won pharmacognistical and other scientific knowledge of the ancients was forgotten, if not lost completely."
In this chapter Ott also discusses the centuries of repression, persecution and eradication of any folk-knowledge of medicinal and entheogenic plants in Europe. Witch hunts and inquisitions abounded. Grab your torches, Bibles and pitchforks! Onward Christian soldiers! As Ott says, "I suggest that, as far as religion goes, we are still in the Dark Ages, and that the Entheogenic Reformation at last heralds the dawning of the Entheogenic Renaissance, a spiritual Renaissance which hopefully will do for religions what the mediaeval Renaissance did for art and science a half-millennium ago."
This takes us to the next chapter entitled The Entheogenic Reformation. Here we look at the various entheogen-based forms of spirituality that live on outside of the empire of church and state.
Finally in Agape: Vac or Logos, Ott looks forward to a possible future, the dawning of the Age of Entheogens. "Christianity and suchlike symbolic, dogmatic religions," he writes, "will prosper only by forsaking the Pharmacratic Inquisition and embracing the Entheogenic Reformation with open arms." Indeed.
Now then for the second book within this book. In the actual text this second half is more descriptively entitled The Angels' Dictionary: Toward a Vocabulary for Sacred Inebriants, Ecstatic States and Kindred Topics. As anyone who has experienced entheogens as such or who has carefully studied the way in which these plants and fungi are traditionally used, such words as "intoxication" and "hallucination" can be dreadfully inadequate. It is rather like trying to describe the colors of the rainbow with only the words "black" and "white" to describe them. As R. Gordon Wasson wrote in 1961, a few years after he rediscovered (for the modern Western world) the traditional use of psilocybian mushrooms in Southern Mexico, "What we need is a vocabulary to describe all the modalities of a Divine Inebriant".
Here then we have Ott's answer to Wasson's call. The Angels' Dictionary is a dictionary of terms related to divine inebriants, shamanism, psychonautica and the like. The entheogenic experience of the ineffable is still beyond language, but this dictionary is at least a good start.
Overall I found this book to be excellent like all of Ott's books. It deserves a spot on the shelves of all serious students of entheogens. It would be quite at home beside the works of R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, Carl Ruck and other masters in this field. As this book is out of print, interested readers are urged to acquire a copy before they are gone. Despite the fact that Ott's books are undeniably amongst the very best that deal with entheogens they all seem to be printed in limited numbers and they all go out of print. After that used book sellers tend to charge a good deal of money for Ott's books because those who know how well he writes are willing to pay a good deal of money for them. Some of his books are being sold for hundreds of dollars but for the time being, one can find this particular book for a reasonable price. I would imagine that this will not last.
The Age of Entheogens, The Pharmacratic Inquisition, and The Entheogenic Reformation. Describes that the ancients used psychoactives all the time, then the power establishment suppressed them, but now entheogens are becoming available again.
The Angels' Dictionary, which is a dictionary of entheogen religion terminology.
This book is widely available new; simply search. Highly recommended. Ott is one of the very few writers, even one of very few entheogenists, who have their head ... on right about psychoactives, in this twisted world. He tells it straight about the motives behind the prohibition-for-profit gravy train. See my Amazon info area for more information.
The Angel's Dictionary is a lexicon of 318 words pertaining to sacred inebriants, ecstatic states and kindred topics; with 290 definitions supported by 445 quotations from classic drug and general literature in six languages; including 37 neologisms as well as 70 entries from 29 non-European languages; made in response to R. Gordon Wasson's trenchant call for "a vocabulary to describe all the modalities of a Divine Inebriant.