Ploughing the Clouds
The Search for Irish Soma
Pub Date :
Edition(s) at Erowid :
City Lights Books
FROM THE EROWID REVIEW #
- Review by Justin Case, 2006 Oct 02
Wilson draws upon a variety of disciplines to tease the “Soma” out the Irish Celtic past. Anthropology, mythology, entheogen studies, comparative religion, linguistics and etymology, and other approaches are employed. He presents his theme as a reasonable suspicion, one that may lead to further evidence if experts in various fields should be inspired by his research. Writing on a more mythopoetic level, Wilson gives us a fascinating perspective on Soma as a tertium quid, a third dimension or reconciliation of a number of dichotomies. . . (more)
BACK COVER #The Rig Veda, written in India about 1500 BC, praises a holy plant called Soma, which is sacrificed and consumed, granting the drinker an experience of enlightenment and ecstasy. The late R. Gordon Wasson identified Soma as a "magic mushroom," Amanita muscaria, and he and his followers discovered that such Indo-Europeans as the ancient Greeks, Iranians, and Norse had also used a Soma-type plant.
In Ploughing the Clouds, Peter Lamborn Wilson investigates the probability of a Soma cult in ancient Ireland, tracing clues in Irish (and other Celtic) lore. By comparing Celtic folktales, romances, epics and topographic lore with the Rig Veda, he uncovers the Irish branch of the great Indo-European tradition of psychedelic (or "entheogenic") shamanism, and even reconstructs some of its secret rituals. He uses this comparative material to illuminate the deep meaning of the Soma-function in all cultures: the entheogenic origin of "poetic frenzy," the link between intoxication and inspiriation.
BLURBS #"[Ploughing the Clouds] is the best thing of its kind since Robert Graves's The White Goddess."
-- Dale Pendell, author of Pharmako/poeia
"[This book] brings new perspectives to the problem of Soma and broadens and deepens the context of its discussion. Information on possible Celtic relationships with psychoactive plants and fungi are most welcome."
-- Terence McKenna