SOMA

 

The Divine Hallucinogen

 

 

David L. Spess

 

Park Street Press

One Park Street

Rochester, Vermont 05767

www.innertraditions.com

 

© 2000 by David L. Spess

ISBN 0-89281-731-3
 

 

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CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

Introduction

3

1. Soma and Sacred Herbalism in the Ancient World

4

2. Light, Ecstatic States, and Other Effects of Soma

7

3. The Identity of Plants Used as Soma

12

4. The Asvins and the Elixir of Immortality

17

5. Soma and the Origins of Alchemy

24

6. Soma and the Origins of Western Magic

34

7. Soma and European Alchemy Notes

45

Notes

63

 

 

 

 


 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

Throughout history there have been legends of a certain plant, known as the "plant of immortality," that contained the "elixir of life." Many miraculous effects were attributed to the use of this plant. It healed the sick, rejuvenated the aged, and bestowed a direct experience of one's own immortality. The plant that produced the elixir of life was eager­ly sought out by many individuals throughout antiquity.

 

Those few who knew about the original plant of immortality always veiled its identity in secrecy. The method for preparing the elixir from this plant was also a well‑kept secret. Because of this secrecy, it has always been assumed that this plant and the effects that it inspired were only legendary; however, it can now be con­firmed that both the plant and its unique method of preparation did exist. Fortunately, ancient texts give enough clues about the herb that its identity can now be determined. To the best of my knowl­edge, no one has rediscovered the secret of the ancient elixir of immortality until now. This book describes for the first time the plant of immortality, the preparation procedures for making the elixir of immortality, and the benefits one can attain through its use.

 

The idea of an "elixir of immortality" mentioned in Chinese, Greco‑Egyptian, Islamic, and European alchemy can be traced back to a plant and drink of Indo‑Aryan origin called soma. Soma was a unique psychoactive and visionary elixir. The divine soma drink was said to induce luminous ecstatic states that enhanced paranormal abilities. Consuming the drink induced the experience of inner light, which led to the development of an interior body of light or energy that was coextensive with a subtle universe behind matter. This sub­tle universe was conceived as the root cause and precursor of our physical universe. It was through the development of this spiritual body of light that humans first gained immortality. The ritual use of the soma drink was believed not only to rapidly aid in the spiritual development of this invisible immortal energy body, but to be the actual origin of the knowledge of such a body's existence.

 

Herbal drinks like soma were used in what have been called the Mystery Religions. I touch upon some of the mysteries in these reli­gions, and in doing so reveal some of their secrets. I also show that the ritual of the soma ceremony, in which the soma drink is prepared, has influenced the traditions of herbalism, alchemy, magic, theurgy, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, and Hermeticism.

 

Ethnobotanically, the implications of the discovery of the elixir of immortality for the development of new herbal drugs, as well as new therapies and methods of spiritual advancement, are enormous. Every indication points to the fact that the elixir of immortality con­tains compounds that work directly upon consciousness, rapidly elic­iting profound experiences of insight and understanding that could otherwise be achieved only through many years of meditation. The implicit fact that paranormal abilities are discussed in the ancient texts, in association with the explicit use of the elixir of immortality, must also he considered in a broader understanding of human con­sciousness,  including spiritual development.