Egyptian Blue Lotus

Lotus Soma-theories | Secret Drugs of Buddhism

Named in imitation of Wasson’s SOMA: Divine Mushroom of Immortality, David L. Spess’s SOMA the Divine Hallucinogen offers the hypothesis that soma was a species of lotus. Or, rather, that it may have been any of a number of lotus or water-lily species of the Nympaea and Nelumbo genera. Spess bases his reasoning on the Ṛig Veda and on Vedic mythology, supplemented with appeals to European and oriental alchemy. Yet despite the intricacy of his arguments, Spess does not tell us what, if any, psychoactive substances are to be found in lotuses. Richard Rudgley does, though. In an account of Meso-American drug traditions, he mentions the presence of apomorphine-like compounds in the Egyptian blue lotus (Nymphaea caerulens) and noted that it is used in North Africa as “an effective substitute for opium”. (Could this be the source of Homer’s North African lotophagoi?) Jonathan Ott, however, dismisses all claims to psychoactivity in lotuses and water-lilies as unfounded and pharmacologically unsound.

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