Study Guide

Dionysus, Pentheus, and Agave Altered States

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Altered States

Don't go thinking that the followers of Dionysus were the only one to use wine and other substances to get closer to their god. For example, wine is an essential part of the communion of the Catholic Church. Catholics ritually drink wine after it is blessed by a priest, believing that it then becomes the blood of Christ.

Of course, wine is only one of the substances used in religious practices throughout the world.
One famous example is the hallucinogenic peyote cactus of the indigenous tribes of Mexico and the Southwestern United States. For thousands of years, various native tribes have eaten the cactus to reach out to their gods and their ancestors. These days, Peyote is an official part of what is known as the Native American Church and can be used legally by members.

Then, of course, there's the Rastafai, who are widely know to smoke marijuana as part of their spiritual practice. Though marijuana is still illegal in their home of Jamaica, the dreadlocked Rastas smoke it as an act of spiritual cleansing, and they believe it brings them closer to their prophet, Haile Salassie, and their God, Jah.

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