Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Entheogen, North America Pages: 3 (845 words) Published: February 27, 2014

Ritualistic Use of Hallucinogens
Hallucinogenic or psychoactive plants have played a significant role in the ideology and religious practices of a wide variety of people throughout the world and in some traditional cultures, continue to play such a role today. Psychoactive substances that are used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context are referred to as Entheogens. Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years; their religious significance is well established in anthropological and modern evidences. Examples of traditional entheogens include: Peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis, and salvia divinorum (Sullum, 2007). Native American Church, Rastafarians, and the Church of Cognizance are a few cultures that practice these religious and spiritual effects. That relationship is the legal rationale for the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, which protects "the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians. In 1994 Congress amended the law to specifically include "the use, possession, or transportation of peyote by an Indian for bona fide traditional ceremonial purposes in connection with the practice of a traditional Indian religion," which had been protected by federal regulations since 1965. It's a remarkable law, not only extending special privileges to a particular church but creating a racial requirement for exercising those privileges, in apparent violation of the First Amendment's ban on "an establishment of religion" and the right to equal protection of the laws (Sullum, 2007). The use of mushrooms in the Northern American Continent dates back before written history as well as the use of the peyote cactus. As far back as 6,000 years ago, Indigenous people used peyote. The Native American Church of North America is the largest pan-Native American religion in North America. The use of Entheogens in ceremony is rooted in the native concept of holistic health...

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