Terminology

Terminology

Lets start with understanding some of the terminology we are using when we are talking about these substances and experiences.

Just to start talking about these things we need to be more clear as to what we are talking about.  In the past there have been many terms proposed to describe these miraculous compounds. We will go over what some of those different classifications are and what differentiates them.

The source of definitions will be taken from Erowid’s psychoactive vault at https://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/psychoactives_def.shtml

As well referencing Psychedelic Mystery Traditions by Thomas Hatsis pg 8-11 where he brings some nuance to differentiate our terms with further.  These are terms that are both trying to place a name to an intangible experience that is often described as ineffable.  This list tries to illustrate the peculiarity and difficulty our language can have when discussing these substance and experiences.

Hallucinogenic: Substances that produce sensations  that appear to be real but are created in the mind. This can show up as hearing voices or sounds, seeing shadows, trails, beings, feeling things crawling on skin, smells and physical sensations.  People also hallucinate when severely ill, high fever, low oxygen in high altitude, underwater scuba diving, sleep deprivation among other things aside from external substances.  This term leaves out the elements of insight, of healing and deeper communication it only speaks to a superficial delusion causing us to buy into the illusion where it seems with the research coming out from universities that these experiences offer a glimpse beyond the illusion of reality and see things at times more real than they appear in waking consciousness.

Psychedelic: These substance are seen as mind manifesting.  Linguistically I believe this gets at what we in the west are mostly comfortable acknowledging that no matter what it seems with the use of psychedelic experiences elements of the mind come forward to pierce the veil of consciousness and show us something from behind the curtain.  Unfortuanately many people do not enjoy this nomenclature as it has been heavily associated to elements of the hippy movement from the 60’s.  This term leaves out the suggestion of spirituality or god which may suit the secular community better when engaging with these experiences.

Empathogens: These are substances that produce empathy or identify feelings of other and feel a sense of connectedness with others.  MDMA is often referenced as an empathogen.  MDMA is also currently being looked at for treatment of PTSD https://maps.org/research/mdma

Entactogen: Substances that affect our sense of touch and tactile information.

Entheogens: These are substances that produce a sense of divinity within, boundary dissolution, universal oneness or a communion with god of some sorts inside.

Extheogens: These were substances that were used with the purpose of connecting or perceiving god or a sense of spirituality outside of us, to speak with gods or converse with angels or demons.  This is speaking from a cultural practices and application perspective. Ie; the telling of the story of Daun Juan by Carlos Castanada and seeing Mescalito as a being outside of himself.

Oneirogens: These were substances that would cause dreams or would affect dreams.

Somnitheogens: Are substances that are used induce deep yet lucid dream states like how opium has been used in certain spiritual practices.

Mystheogens: These were substances that were used in generating visions in holy settings such as at the mystery schools and how they perhaps used these substances to open up the mind.

Pythiagens: These were substances that were used in magick acts and rituals.

Poetigens: Substances that are used to fire up the creativity and stir the imagination.

Recreational: People do psychedelics for recreation and leisure as well.(just to keep the list more inclusive of the reasons people use these substances.