"Enter into the heart of Indra, receptacle of Soma like rivers into the ocean thou who pleasest Mitra, Varuna, Vaya, mainstay of the heaven!" :Father of the gods, progenitor of the moving force mainstay of the sky, foundation of the earth."
Of the more than 1000 holy hymns in the Rig-Veda, 120 are devoted exclusively to Soma and references to this vegetal sacrament run through many of the other hymns. The cult died out, and the original holy plant was forgotten; other plant-surrogates-devoid of psychoactivity-were substituted. Amanita muscaria may be the oldest of the hallucinogens and perhaps was once the most widely used. Yet the identity of Soma remained one of the enigmas of ethnobotany for two thousand years. Only in 1968 did studies of an interdisciplinary nature suggest, with very substantial evidence from diverse fields that the sacred narcotic was a mushroom, Amanita muscaria, the Fly Agaric.
The Fly Agaric, so named because early use was to stun or kill flies, may have been employed hallucinogenically in Mesoamerica. It occurs naturally in highland areas in southern Mexico and Guatemala. The Maya of highland Guatemala, for example, recognize Amanita muscaria as having special properties for they call it the "lightning mushroom" relating it to one of the gods, the "Lord of Lightning".
More recently the religious use of Amanita muscaria as a sacred mushroom has been discovered in an ancient annual ceremony practiced by the Ojibway Indians who live on Lake Superior in Michigan. It seems very likely that further studies by psychic investigators will turn up significant magico-religious use of the Fly Agaric mushrooms in North and Middle America.