I found this rather … disconcerting, because it is arguably an instance of #NAS meme magic in action.
You see, many years ago now, when I was getting interested in Indo-European ethnobotany, I happened across the academic debate over the identity of Soma. Which – to my mind at least – has now been solved thanks to archaeological evidence from the steppes, and other information, which strongly suggests psilocybin-bearing mushrooms.
However, a ‘confounding’ factor to that explanation previous to the aforementioned archaeological discovery, was the Zoroastrian traditions around Haoma [note the S=>H sound-shift between Sanskrit and older Persianate languages]; wherein they have used ephedra in their rituals .. which, quite naturally, lead to the presumption that maybe this was an active preservation from ancient days of an authentic ritual element.
Except that a) ephedra’s a stimulant, not a psychedelic .. and would seem odd for .. well .. what’s described in the relevant Vedic hymnals in effects profile; and b) it’s Zoroastrianism. My belief being that the discordance between what they do, and what we did during the Vedic age, being because they started ‘culture-jamming’ by ‘replacing’ the effective content [and literal active ingredient] of the sacred brew ceremonies. And certainly, there are ancient Zoroastrian statements of castigation against the ‘pre-Zoroaster’ approach to Soma’-Haoma’.
Anyway, due to … some of my other competencies (as well as what was prominent in the NZ news media and on TV at the time), as soon as I saw that actually, ancient Indo-Iranian peoples had been producing powerful stimulant substances working from an ephedrine base, you can see where my mind went.
In more recent years, with a better command of both etymology and comparative mythoreligion, I think I actually wrote an article about, to sum it up briefly: Ancient Aryan Meath. Meath meaning … something *slightly* different in this context, and relating to uh .. cheese. THE CHEESE OF POWER. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, now, does it. [Before somebody calls me up on it,
it’s an *indirect* relationship, at least partially relating to the manufacturing process .. of the cheese]
In any case – we went from making a series of jokes, over the years about Ancient Indo-European Narcotheomythobellicosia , specifically involving the manufacture of combat stimulants from certain herb-life …
… through to me reading about it in a headline.
Interestingly, to quote from the article:
“Researchers on Mansfield’s team said that no one knows how Afghans discovered the plant’s alkaloid content, which is what makes it possible to create meth.”
Perhaps, just perhaps, somebody *remembered*.