[INDOLOGY] Soma and Amanita muscaria

Georges PINAULT georges.pinault at wanadoo.fr
Tue Oct 9 21:39:30 UTC 2018

Dear All,  The list of references provided by Jarod is excellent and nearly complete. I may add a little contribution of mine, that may escape notice: in "Further links between the Indo-Iranian substratum and the BMAC language", in B. Tikkanen & H. Hettrich, Themes and tasks in Old and Middle Indo-Aryan linguistics, Delhi, 2006, p. 167-196. I have devoted some argument (184-189) about the name RV aMSu-, which I consider as the genuine name of the plant, because soma- was actually the name of the juice. My etymology of aMSu- takes it as a colour name borrowed from a language of Central Asia, and referring  to the rusty red (brown) colour of the internal part of its stalk. All other colours attributed to th soma- in the RV are based on metaphors. This would support the identification as ephedra. 
This is a modest contribution to the debate. Best wishes,   Georges-Jean Pinault 
> Message du 09/10/18 18:14> De : "Whitaker, Jarrod L. via INDOLOGY" > A : indology at list.indology.info> Copie à : > Objet : Re: [INDOLOGY] Soma and Amanita muscaria> > I would recommend the following sources on Soma's identity (taken from my article “Rig Veda.” Oxford Bibliographies — Hinduism: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/obo/page/hinduism. August 30, 2016): Falk, Harry. “Soma I and II.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 52.1 (1989): 77–90. Falk pays close attention to the descriptions of sóma in the Rgveda and Avesta, and argues strongly for a type of ephedra for the identity and stimulant effects of the plant. Flattery, David S., and Martin Schwartz. Haoma and Harmaline. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. Argues for the identity of the sóma and Avestan haoma as wild rue (Peganum harmala). Houben, Jan E. M. “The Soma-Haoma Problem: Introductory Overview and Observations on the discussion.” Edited by Jan E. M Houben. Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 9.1 (2003). In the most comprehensive study of its kind, Houben provides a detailed summary of past theories on the identity of the sóma and its Avestan counterpart haoma and concludes that a type of ephedra is the best candidate for the plant. Nicholson, Philip T. “The Soma Code, Parts I–III.” Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 8.3 (2002): 1–64. Nicholson is concerned with the imagery of light and ecstatic visions in relation to drinking the substance. Nyberg, Harri. “The Problem of the Aryans and the Soma: The Botanical Evidence.” In The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity. Edited by George Erdosy, 382–406. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995. Nyberg examines the botanical evidence for Central Asia, the Hindukush region, and northwest Pakistan/India, and concludes that ephedra-based plants are the best candidates for sóma. Staal, Frits. “How a Psychoactive Substance Becomes a Ritual: The Case of Soma.” Social Research: Altered States of Consciousness 68.3 (2001): 745–778. Staal argues for a hallucinogenic/psychedelic effect for sóma since it plays a substantial role in generating visions for poets in the Rgveda. Stuhrman, Rainer. “Rgvedische Lichtaufnahmen: Soma botanisch, pharmakolisch, in den Augen der Kavis.” Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 13.1 (2006): 1–93. Given the prevalence of light imagery in the text, Stuhrman argues for a hallucinogenic effect of sóma. Thompson, George. “Soma and Ecstasy in the Rgveda.” Edited by Jan E. M. Houben. Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 9.1 (2003). Thompson argues for a hallucinogenic/psychedelic effect for sóma, particularly given its role in visions and out-of-body experiences, which may be attested in several Rgvedic hymns. Wasson, R. Gordon. Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968. Perhaps the most famous view on the identity of the plant, Wasson argues that sóma was the hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom Amanita muscaria. Wasson’s conclusion, while still perpetuated by some academics and the wider media, is no longer thought to be credible by the vast majority of Vedic scholars. JW -- Jarrod Whitaker, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Graduate Program Director, Department for the Study of Religions. Wake Forest University P.O. Box 7212 Winston-Salem, NC 27109 whitakjl at wfu.edu p 336.758.4162 _______________________________________________ INDOLOGY mailing list INDOLOGY at list.indology.info indology-owner at list.indology.info (messages to the list's managing committee) http://listinfo.indology.info (where you can change your list options or unsubscribe)

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