Femtheogens: women and sacred plants in the classical world
Ruck, Carl Anton Paul
MetadataShow full item record
Citation (published version)C.A.P. Ruck. 2016. "Femtheogens: Women and Sacred Plants in the Classical World."
Typical of male reluctance to accept the role of female involvement with entheogens, one recent authority on ancient wine has cast doubt on the very existence of the otherwise well-documented ecstatic rituals of the mountain revels of the women called bacchants for their celebration of the god Dionysus/Bacchus, since it would not seem in the best inter-ests of the town for the men to allow their mothers, wives, and daughters to behave in such a liberated and profligate behavior. These women in actuality wereengaged in the ritual gathering of sacred psychoactive plants, which involved the experience of divine possession by the deity and was described in a vocabulary of traditional sexual metaphors, such as are common among herb-gatherers. The performance of these rites was seen as essential for the identity and very existence of the city and for maintaining the proper relationship of the civilization and its culture with the female-dominant matriarchal religions and peoples from which it evolved into the patriarchal revision over which the twelve Olympian deities presided in the Classical Age. The rites were also elemental for perpetuating the hybridization of edible foodstuffs from their toxic and primitive antecedents and for assigning and mediating the polarity of socially assigned sexual roles and identities. They indoctrinated the family in a metaphysical communion that spanned the grave and opened contact with the realm of the ancestors. As a beneficial transmutation of ghostly possession, the rites underlay the emergence of drama. It was the performances in the Theater of Dionysusin Athens that were largely responsible for the iconic role of the city in the future traditions of Europe. Mythical accounts traced the origin of the Ionian tribal group of Greeks to a similar rite of plant-gathering.