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Ancient Celtic Coin Art

48 49 For thousands of years mankind has transcended mundane experience and entered ecstatic states through the use of psychoactive plants. Even the most moralistic of cultures maintained an elite group of practitioners skilled in accessing alternate realms. Old Testament prophets would go into the wilderness fasting and eat of the plants of the field before attaining heavenly visions or prophecies of doom. Archaeological finds of psychoactive plant material throughout Europe dating at least from the Neolithic period suggest the main materials were poppy, cannabis, henbane and wormwood, all of which have medicinal properties as well as being psychoactive. In Celtic art the trumpet spiral motif could be seen as a mushroom crosssection, similar to Asian and South American designs representing fungi. In Europe, the use of psychoactive fungi is recorded in the far North, where shamanic use of the red and white fly agaric mushroom is ancient. It is also likely that the Psylocybe liberty cap Family was known to our Celtic ancestors, as, like ancestral spirits, they emerge from the ground in great numbers around Samhain Oct 1st and stain a deep woadlike blue. The abstraction and reconfiguration of symbols on coins may directly derive from tranceinduced visions. Visionary trance within the Iron Age spiritual experience is suggested by the familiar shamanic motifs of transformation, flight and shapeshifting, and the deconstruction and abstraction of the familiar creates an ambiguous, edgy aesthetic suggestive of the numinous spirit worlds. THE ART OF TRANCE mushroom frenzy and the wild seer a. b. c. d. e. f.
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