soma (so´me) noun
plural somata (-me-te) or somas
1. The entire body of an organism, exclusive of the germ cells.
2. The body of an individual as contrasted with the mind or psyche.
[New Latin soma, from Greek, body.]
soma elixir of immortality
All the great neolithic societies had some kind of cult of soma--the Sanskrit word for the psychoactive experience. The Rg-Veda, one of the oldest books of humanity, is all about the psychedelic experience. If only Tim Leary had used the Rg-Veda instead of the Tibetan Book of the Dead to introduce LSD, the sixties would have been a different decade. The Tibetan Book is about death, a downer, whereas the Rg-Veda is very much about life and joy and power.
All neolithic and classical societies had some variety of this. We owe these discoveries to Gordon Wasson, who was the first to discuss whether the soma of the Rg-Veda was in fact a magicmushroom. He also came to the conclusion that the Eleusinian mysteries, one of the central religious rights of the ancient Greeks, was also fueled by a psychoactive plant. The ancient Persians had something called "helma," it might have been a plant that contains harmoline. I claim to have discovered that the ancient Irish had a similar cult... and of course we know about the Aztecs and the Mayans: they still had an active psychedelic cult when the conquistadors arrived. In some of the old Spanish chronicles you can actually read about magic mushrooms. But somehow these texts were lost, or no one read them, or if they read them they did not believe them, or they were horrified by them.
The Indo-Europeans-many scholars believe-used an entheogenic or psychedelic drug in their rituals:
called soma amongst the Vedic people of India-haoma in Iran. According to Wasson, Hoffman, Ruck, et al., the ancient Greeks also used an ergot-based preparation in wine as the entheogenic trigger of the Elusinian Mysteries. Soma has been identified as amanita muscaria or the fly agaric mushroom; haoma may have been the same, or it might be "wild rue", a harmaline-containing shrub. If there's any truth to these theories, we would expect to find that other Indo-European peoples also used such drugs shamanically or ritually. Terrence McKenna believes that psilocybe was once even more widely distributed than it is now, and therefore must also be considered in the "soma" context. Certainly entheogenic religions are far more thoroughly attested today than when Wasson launched ethnomycology with his wild speculations. (Which now seem rather conservative.) Only residual prejudice stands in the way of a sober reassessment of such "crazy" notions as John Allegro's. Even if we cannot accept the "psychedelic experience" as the origin of religion, I believe that we must certainly see it as one of a complex of "origins", a complexity which might best be expressed in a palimpsest of theories about those origins; in short, I would maintain that the failure to consider entheogenesis ("birth of the god within" by ingestion of psychotropic substances) must hitherto be considered a serious flaw in any integral History of Religion (or "histories of religions"). Eliade's grave error -the association of "drugs" only with the decay of shamanism, and not with its primordial original structure-now stands corrected.
- Peter Lamborn Wilson - _Irish Soma_
Soma is a very difficult deity for many outside of India to comprehend. He works on numerous levels, all of which are tied together rather strangely. Soma is firstly a plant. He is also an intoxicating drink which was brewed from that plant. As the blood of animals and the sap of plants, Soma courses through all living things. He is Inspiration to those who seek it, and so is the god of poets. He is also the god of the moon. He is the dwelling place of the venerated dead, as well as the divine cure for evil. The ancient Hindus did not differentiate between these divergent aspects; all were the god Soma.
Soma was one of the more important gods in the Rig Veda; 120 hymns and one entire book are dedicated to him. He has many different forms. He is seen as a celestial bull, a bird, a giant rising from the waters, the lord of plants, and as an embryo. He rarely is seen as a fully grown human.
As a drink, Soma is the ambrosia of the gods. It was due to this influence that they could rise above all obstacles to achieve their goals. Indra was a great drinker of the substance; before his confrontation with Vritra, he drank rivers of it to gain the strength needed to overcome the fearsome dragon. Agni also consumed it in large amounts. Soma was what gave the Vedic gods their immortality. It was also a drink for mortals, a golden-hued nectar which was derived from the Soma plant, which may be a species known as ephedra vulgaris to botanists. This drink brought hallucinations and ecstasy to those who consumed it. It helped warriors to overcome their fears in battle, and it helped poets to become inspired to create. Soma was a bridge between the mortal world and that of the gods. This drink is the same as Haoma in Persian mythology.
As the moon, Soma became equated with the god Chandra, who originally was the moon deity. The moon was considered the cup which held the drink Soma for the gods, and one reason that the moon waxed and waned was due to this fact. When the moon waned, it was because the gods were drinking down all the Soma; as it waxed, the god was re-creating himself, only to be consumed again once the cup was again full. As the Vedic age ended and the Brahmans asserted themselves, the power of the gods no longer came from Soma but instead from sacrifices made by humans; Soma came more and more to be just a god of the moon. In later times, the waxing and waning of the moon was due to a curse put on Soma. Soma had twenty-seven wives (who correspond to the twenty-seven stations of the moon). They were all the daughters of Daksha. Daksha felt that Soma was paying too much attention to one of his daughters, thereby neglecting the rest. He cursed Soma to die a withering death. But Soma's wives intervened, and so the death became only periodic; during half the month, the moon slowly dies away, but is reborn and comes around again to full vigor.
The Brood (1979) was David Cronenberg's first film with 'name' actors—starring Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar. Reed plays Dr Hal Raglan, a maverick therapist who has set up a retreat to practice the controversial technique he has developed, known as Psychoplasmics. It is here, at The Soma Institute, that the film begins.
604 entity Somaton aka Seb Taylor
techno/tech house label Soma Recordings Limited