Does India have entheomycology traditions? A review and call to research
This article reviews evidence for India’s entheomycological traditions—religious practices using fungi to produce spiritual experiences-- and proposes needed studies. The proposed fungal identity (Amanita muscaria (L.) Lam.) of the entheogenic Soma and the identities of soma substitutes still lack adequate ethnobotanical studies. Furthermore, the need for entheomycological studies in India is illustrated by the presence of many psychoactive mushrooms and evidence of their possible sacred use in India. Evidence for historical entheomycology is illustrated in: the mushroom stones of Kerala; entheogenic mushroom traditions and mushroom iconography in Buddhism; the mushroom sculptures on the thresholds of the temples of Khajuraho; and results from a pilot interview on cultural history of entheogenic mushrooms in a rural area of Chattarpur near Khajuraho. A review of recent Indian ethnomycology publications provides guidelines for entheomycology research by indicating optimal regional areas, research methods, interview respondents, and language groups for research into India’s mycophilic cultures and elusive entheomycological traditions.
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