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Sacramental Plants and Fungi: Historical and Scientific Insights for the Religious Life

Session Description:

Humans have long sought to encounter the sacred through meditation, prayer, fasting, and other spiritual practices that alter consciousness. For millennia, Indigenous communities have used entheogenic (“God-manifesting”) plant medicines in their religious practices. Recent scientific research has shown that under suitable conditions, certain mushrooms and other entheogenic substances often occasion profound, transcendent experiences that participants rate as among the most spiritually significant of their lives. Contemporary studies have tested the value of such substances for enriching spiritual life, including one with seminary students at Marsh Chapel (1962), and a recent study with religious leaders at Johns Hopkins University and New York University (2023). Scientific findings from both studies are presented, with discussion of the roles of mystical-type experiences in the history and future of religious practices.

  • Date
    August 15, 2023
  • Time
    5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Location