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Religion

An Anthropological Perspective

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H. Sidky

Religion: An Anthropological Perspective provides a critical view of religion focusing upon important but overlooked topics such as religion, cognition, and prehistory; science, rationality, and religion; altered states of consciousness, entheogens and religious experience; religion and the paranormal; magic and divination; religion and ecology; fundamentalism; and religion and violence. In addition, this book offers a unique and concise coverage of traditional topics of the anthropology of religion such as shamanism and witchcraft (past and present), ritual, myth, religious symbols, and revitalization movements. A vast range of findings from ethnography, ethnology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, prehistory, history, and cognitive science are brought to bear on the subject. Written in clear jargon-free prose, this book provides an accessible and comprehensive yet critical view of the anthropology of religion both for graduate and undergraduate students and general audiences. Its scope and critical scientific orientation sets Religion: An Anthropological Perspective apart from all other treatments of the subject.
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Chapter Five: Entheogens and Religious Experience

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CHAPTER FIVE

Entheogens and Religious Experience



As we have seen in the previous two chapters, the central feature of human spirituality is the mystical experience of a transcendent reality. This is the foundation upon which religion is built. Paula Hruby (2001: 59) describes mystical experiences as “intense phenomenological experiences of awe/wonder, unity, and expanded sense of self.” While such mystical states are typically spontaneous and unpredictable, nearly identical experiences have been achieved though the ingestion of substances referred to as entheogens (Nichols and Chemel 2006: 26). This raises the question: What is the role of entheogens in religiosity?

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