Letcher, Andy
(1968– )
   British scholar of religion whose work has focused on the role of the bard in contemporary Paganism and entheogenic neo-shamanism. His research on the latter, Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom (2006), chronicles AngloAmerican psilocybin use, offers a discourse analysis of psychedelic experience, and critically engages with the arguments of key thinkers on hallucinogenic mushrooms, principally Gordon Wasson, Timothy Leary, and Terence McKenna, whose ideas have permeated popular culture and led to a number of myths about entheogen use worldwide.
   Wasson suggested the magic mushroom produced the religious impulse in humans during the European Paleolithic, spreading globally via cultural diffusion. He produced evidence to support his theory from a wide variety of problematic sources, such as identifying fly agaric as the Vedic Soma. Wasson also proposed that European cultures have been either “mycophilic” or “mycophobic,” a worldview enduring in folk memory. Letcher argues that Wasson’s discourse derives from Frazerian cultural evolution with “fossils” of folk memory (of mushroom use) preserved. Wasson also overemphasizes the importance of fly agaric use: in Siberia (the locus classicus of shamanism), fly agaric is used only in two small areas, mainly recreationally, and not by shamans.
   Assessing the work of Wasson, Leary, and McKenna as a whole, Letcher argues that these thinkers promoted entheogens as essentially benign and psychedelic experience as essentially the same across cultures and across entheogens (with LSD discourse having a major role in this perception). Yet, such experience is diverse and always culturally mediated. Considering the loaded terms psychedelic, entheogen, drugs, and the like, Letcher finds no suitable, nonpejorative alternative and employs all of them so as not to privilege one discourse over another.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cliff Letcher — (born 9 February 1952, in Pyramid Hill, Australia), is a former professional tennis player from Australia. Letcher enjoyed most of his tennis success while playing doubles. During his career he won 2 doubles titles and finished runner up in… …   Wikipedia

  • Amanita muscaria — A. muscaria showing various growth stages Scientific classification …   Wikipedia

  • Bibliography —    As the scope of the dictionary entries and extent of this bibliography make clear, there is a huge range of literature on shamans, from introductory works, general discussions on such topics as definition, and culture specific ethnographic… …   Historical dictionary of shamanism

  • Neopaganism — or Neo Paganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by historical pre Christian European pagan religions. [Lewis, James R. The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements …   Wikipedia

  • Psilocybin mushroom — Magic Mushroom redirects here. For other uses, see Magic Mushroom (disambiguation). Psychedelic mushroom redirects here. It is not to be confused with Psychoactive mushroom. Psilocybe cubensis Psilocybin mushrooms are fungi that contain the… …   Wikipedia

  • Paganism (contemporary religious movements) — For other uses, see Neo Pagan (disambiguation). A Rodnover ritual in modern Russia. Rodnovery is a Pagan religion that attempts to recreate forms of pre Christian Russian religion. Paganism, which is also referred to as contemporary Paganism, Neo …   Wikipedia

  • Paganism (contemporary) — For other uses, see Neo Pagan (disambiguation). A Rodnover ritual in modern Russia. Rodnovery is a Pagan religion that attempts to recreate forms of pre Christian Russian religion. Paganism, which is also referred to as contemporary Paganism, Neo …   Wikipedia

  • Wildflowers — – The New York Jazz Loft Sessions Studioalbum von verschiedenen Künstlern Veröffentlichung 1977 Label Douglas Music, Casablanca Records, Knit Media …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kentucky — This article is about the Commonwealth of Kentucky. For other uses, see Kentucky (disambiguation). Commonwealth of Kentucky …   Wikipedia

  • Gaël Monfils — Country  France Residence …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”