Anthropology

The use of hallucinogenic plants dates back thousands of years. Over the years, many different cultures and civilizations have used them for different purposes. The common belief that similarities exist between cultures that rely upon the use of herbal hallucinogens is greatly exaggerated. The cultural variables between these cultures are often so significant that the only major similarity between them is the fact that they use hallucinogens. The common generalization by society that every culture that uses hallucinogens must be similar can be proven false by comparing the Australian Aborigines and the Navaho Peyote Cult. Before the two cultures and their use of hallucinogenic plants can be examined and compared, a brief explanation of hallucinogenic plants must be given. As with most things, the use of hallucinogenic plants is effected by cultural variables. These variables strongly reflect the different needs for, and usage of, these plants among societies. One of the most complete lists of these variables is presented in Marlene Dobkin de Rios Hallucinogens, cross-cultural perspectives. Rios states, As various writers have pointed out, the hallucinogenic experience comprises an interacting set of variables such as the attitude, expectations, motivation, mood, and personality of the user and the physical setting (8). Due to the fact that these plants are mind-altering drugs, all of the variables listed by Rios have a significant effect upon the user of these drugs. These variables are not only cultural, but they are also personal. If a person is entering into the experience with a bad state of mind (i.e. attitude or mood) their hallucinations will most likely reflect this attitude. If their expectations are too high, their disappointment may result in a change of mood. In contrast, if a person is not prepared for what they are going to experience then the drug may surpass their expectations. When the drug sur…

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