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The Distinction between the terms Psychedelic and Entheogen

When we converse and have conversations with individuals, what we are doing is attempting to convey our inner world out externally outward. We do this with the use of symbols and words. Sometimes the definitions of what we are speaking of match; but oftentimes many people will each have their own distinct inner glossary or dictionary as it comes to certain words.

As a result, this particular post is about the distinction between the words Psychedelic and Entheogen. From a component perspective, let's first break down the etymology of the words Psychedelic and Entheogen first.


To express a brief storytelling tangent here, the word Psychedelic was first used by British-born Canadian psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in a letter to Aldous Huxley in 1956. It comes from the Greek word psykhē "mind" and dēloun "make visible, reveal". To break this down further, the word Psychedelic from an etymology perspective may refer to revealing the mind. Oftentimes in the context of defining Psychedelic, there is a tendency to attribute a state to simply drug use or hallucinations. Where, if we were to take a deeper look at the idea of making the mind visible, psychedelics would refer to anything that would assist in revealing the mysteries of one's inner word via the mind.

Now let's take a look at a word that is related to Psychedelic, but it is not quite the same.


The etymology of Entheogen is much more mystical than the word Psychedelic. The word comes from the Ancient Greek ἔνθεος entheos ["god", "divine"] and γενέσθαι genesthai ["generate" - "generating the divine within". Jonathan Ott is credited with coining the term in 1979. Bringing this back to good old Aldous Huxley, his final novel, Island (1962), depicted a fictional entheogenic mushroom — termed "moksha medicine" — used by the people of Pala in rites of passage, such as the transition to adulthood and at the end of life.

Now if we take a look back at both of these terms, it seems as though there are many instances where a psychedelic substance IS also an entheogen. However, one may not always have a mystical "god-within" finding experience simply consuming psychedelics. YOU must be well prepared and provided an appropriate container for the generation of the divine within to occur.

This is precisely why approaching psychedelics in a sacred and respectful way is itself an act of alchemizing and transforming a Psychedelic experience into an Entheogenic one. If you are interested in approaching psychedelics in a sacred way, please see information on our ceremonial offerings here.

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