Haoma and Harmaline: The Botanical Identity of the Indo-Iranian Sacred Hallucinogen "soma" and Its Legacy in Religion, Language, and Middle-Eastern Folklore

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University of California Press, 1989 - Religion - 211 pages
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The careful, well-organized research, abundant and resourceful footnotes and clear concise writing make the argument of this book very convincing. Several hypothesis regarding the botanical Identity of Soma have been presented in the literature which had been inspired by objections to Gordon Wasson's proposal that Soma was a mushroom, (Aminita Muscaria). Scholars on all sides of the argument have attempted to use the Rig Veda as verifying source. Flattery and Schwartz however, used a different method in "Haoma and Harmaline" and achieved a much more complete argument by using the Iranian Avesta and other Indo-Iranian sources to better understand the Sacred Soma ceremony. Their discovering and disclosing reports on effective use of the plant within the original and a parallel cultural context was sensitively done. That the purpose of soma was to gain experience on alternative planes in order to bring back messages from Deity and to communicate authority from the spiritual realms for social teachings is a particularly convincing argument for something a little stronger than epehedrine. That it aided courage and insight are also promising attributes.
This book is really interesting because it has carefully authentic detail and so it also increases cultural understanding of ancient Iranian religion, and creates a possibility for new ways of thinking about many things. The drawings are helpful.
 

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