Soma siddhas and alchemical enlightenment: psychedelic mushrooms in Buddhist tradition

J Ethnopharmacol. 1995 Oct;48(2):99-118. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(95)01292-l.


In the legendary biographies of some Buddhist adepts from the 2nd- and 9th-centuries there are some clues which can be interpreted to reveal that the adepts were consuming psychedelic Amanita muscaria, 'fly agaric', mushrooms to achieve enlightenment. This secret ingredient in the alchemical elixir they used to attain 'realization' was, of course, unnamed, in keeping with their vows to maintain the secrecy of their practices. Its identity was concealed behind a set of symbols, some of which appeared in the Soma symbol system of the Rg Veda, some other symbols possibly passed down from a time of earlier shamanic use of the mushroom in the forests of Northern Eurasia, and some symbols that may be unique to these Buddhist legends. The congruity of these sets of symbols from Northern and Southern Asian traditions will be shown to be reflected in the Germanic tradition in some characteristics of the Oldest God, Odin.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Amanita*
  • Buddhism / history*
  • Hallucinogens / history*
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • India
  • Language
  • Linguistics
  • Yoga / history


  • Hallucinogens