Substances which generate god or spirit within. Peyote or psilocybin mushrooms are traditional examples of this.
(from Entheogens and the Future of Religion)
- psychoactive sacrament; a plant or chemical substance taken to occasion spiritual or mystical experience
- hallucinogen; psychedelic
Why Use The Word Entheogen?The Age of Entheogens & The Angel's Dictionary
by Jonathon Ott
Carl A.P. Ruck, Danny Staples, Jeremy Bigwood and I, in collaboration with Wasson, proposed the neologism entheogen[ic] in 1973, as a term "appropriate for describing states of shamanic and ecstatic possession induced by ingestion of mind-altering drugs." Noting that shamanic inebriants did not provoke hallucinations or other psychiatric pathologies, we deemed hallucinogen[ic], psychotomimetic and its congeners to be pejorative, prejudicing "transcendent and beatific states of communion with deity" characteristic of traditional use of visionary drugs. We noted that, besides being pejorative outside of the counterculture, psychedelic was "so invested with connotations of the popculture of the 1960s that it is incongruous to speak of a shaman's taking a 'psychedelic' drug."
Entheogen[ic] (literally 'becoming divine within') was derived from an obsolete Greek word describing religious communion with visionary drugs, prophetic seizures and erotic passion, and is cognate with the common word enthusiasm. Since the neologism is apposite to traditional contexts of use of shamanic inebriants, it has met with an enthusiastic reception by ethnographers and historians, and has appeared in print in all of the major European languages, plus Catalin. Entheogen[ic] has now become the primary term for shamanic inebriants in the Spanish-speaking world, and bids fair to become the predominant term for these drugs in the ethnographic and ethnopharmacognostical literature worldwide.
Although we have thus elegantly solved the problem of a culturally-appropriate, non-pejorative term to describe the context of use of these drugs, the phytochemists and pharmacologists have yet to agree on a term to categorize their pharmacological action. There is no facile chemical classification, as many structural types of alkalolds, terpenoids, amino acids, even coumarins are psychoactive in various shamanic inebriants. Similarly, there is considerable pharmacological variability within this class of drugs. Hallucinogen[ic] remains the predominant term for the older generation of scientists, despite the fact that most of these drugs usually do not produce hallucinations in the clinical sense.
Psychedelic is still much used by younger scientists, but generally only in reference to drugs with effects like LSD or mescaline; while important shamanic inebriants like the mushroom Amanita muscaria(l. ex Fr.) Pers. ex Gray, the mint Salvia divinorum Epling et Jativa, tobacco (the shamanic drug of the Americas par excellence)-- all likewise used culturally as entheogens--are said not to evoke psychedelic effects. Although we may presently speak of all these shamanic 'plant-teachers' as entheogenic drugs or as entheogens, we as yet have no single word to describe their pharmacological effects, and must still have recourse to cumbersome binomials, like visionary effects, ecstatic effects, etc.; and we might just as well resurrect the obscure, but quite elegant, term psychoptic: 'producing mental or spiritual vision.'
Definition of "Entheogen"
by R. Gordon Wasson
ENTHEOGEN nov. verb.:
'God within us', those plant substances that, when ingested, give one a divine experience, in the past commonly called 'hallucinogens', 'psychedelics', 'psychotomimetics', etc etc, to each of which serious objections can be made. A group headed by the Greek scholar Carl A.P. Ruck advances 'entheogen' as fully filling the need, notably catching the rich cultural resonances evoked by the substances, many of them fungal, over vast areas of the world in proto- and prehistory. See Journal of Psychedelic Drugs Vol 11.1-2, 1979, pp 145-6. We favor the adoption of this word. Early Man, throughout much of Eurasia and the Americas, discovered the properties of these substances and regarded them with profound respect and even awe, hedging them about with bonds of secrecy. We are now rediscovering the secret and we should treat the 'entheogens' with the respect to which they were richly entitled. As we undertake to explore their role in the early history of religions, we should call them by a name unvulgarized by hippy abuse."
Substances which cause or help one to identify with the feelings of others or feel a sense of connectedness with others. MDMA is a good example.
The term was originally coined by Dave Nichols (co-founder of the Heffter Institute) to refer to substances which generate a sense of "the touch within". Again, a good examples of this would be MDMA. Entactogen is used interchangeably with empathogen, by some. However, the literal derivation of the word --to create or causes a change in the sense of touch--has also led to the word being used to describe substances which affect an individual's physical sensations of touch.
Literally, substances which cause dreams. . . or which cause changes in or effect to dreams.
Describes substances that, to some measure, duplicate the symptoms of mental illness and, as such, might serve as exploratory tools in the study of some forms of psychosis and sensory disorder.
-- from TIHKAL
Substances which create sensory experiences in the mind (cause hallucinations).
Coined by Humphry Osmond in his 1957 article "A Review of the Clinical Effects of Psychotomimetic Agents".