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tearing the rag off the bush again
Eliade, from Opium And Cannabis to Amphetamines* PDF E-mail

The fantastic prose

Some time in the late 1970s, I was a guest of the surrealist poet Gellu Naum in his house in Comana (near Bucharest) when I witnessed somebody offering him marijuana for his pipe. “I do not need stimulants,” he declined with a smile, “I raise my adrenaline level myself.” We can identify here a particular type of bravado, typical of surrealist artists. When suspected of having created his paintings under the influence of hallucinogenic substances, Salvador Dali declared, at his turn, “I do not take drugs. I myself am the drug.” In English, the idiom to describe this state is to be naturally high, denoting a natural inducement of euphoria or ecstasy. A claim quite similar to Gellu Naum’s was made by Mircea Eliade in 1944, in Cordoba, in answer to entreaties from the part of several participants in a congress in Spain that he should have some wine to get into that “mad verve”. “The truth is,” Eliade jotted down in his diary on this occasion, “that I can get myself ‘buzzed’ even on a glass of soda water. My verve – my intoxication even – have nothing to do with alcohol. It’s enough if I have simply the night, the moon, the field, the woman – or anything else alive.”1 However, Mircea Eliade’s relationship with psychotropic substances was far more complex than that. Some coordinates of it shall be given in what follows.

In March 1924, at the age of only 17 years, Mircea Eliade published (under the pseudonym Silviu Nicoară) a courageous article, “The Artists and the Hashish”, explaining in it why many artists and writers (Gérard de Nerval, Alexandre Dumas-Père, Theophil Gauthier, Charles Baudlaire etc.) have used the intoxication with hashish: in order to enhance their intelectual creativity and mobility.  “Taken in infinitesimal quantity – wrote the adolescent Eliade, quoting Charles Richet –, [the hashish] unfreezes the mind making it proper for things hard to understand and gives it also an amazing continuity of ideas.”  The adolescent Eliade concluded that, taken in big doses, the hashish induces extatic states: “In that moment the soul leaves the body and you feel that you are immersing into ether” (“Ziarul ştiinţelor populare” [The Journal of Popular Sciences], no. 12, 18th of March 1924, p. 172).

The short story “At the Gypsies” [“La ţigănci”] seems – alongside other fantastic short stories written by Eliade – to be the description of a “journey” taken after being administered a hallucinogenic substance. The psychosomatic states that the fictitious professor Gavrilescu undergoes are, sometimes to the smallest detail, comparable with those experimented, for instance, by Eduard Pamfil, a professor of psychiatry from Timişoara. For the sake of science, during his research on psychoses carried out in 1949, Pamfil intoxicated himself with mescaline, assisted by two abstemious colleagues noting down his statements. The account of this experiment was published in 1976.2 The publication of that work a few pages long was a near-miraculous one in the context of communist censorship, yet it was not by any stretch a piece of pioneering research in the Romanian setting.

Before that, in 1932, the Romanian neurologist Gheorghe Marinescu had carried out similar experiments, also administering mescaline to a number of volunteers (writers, painters, students, etc.) and recording their reactions. The results of these experiments were made public in a conference held at the Carol I Foundation in Bucharest, in November 1932. Before him, in 1929, Dr Nicolae Leon (1862-1931) had experimented the intoxication with extract of black henbane seeds (Hyoscyamus niger) on himself and had recorded post factum the dream-like states experienced. Worried that the hallucinogenic potion could be fatal to him, N. Leon also had an antidote ready on his nightstand.3 A model for these Romanian physicians seems to have been Sigmund Freud (Dr Leon even points specifically to Freud), who had caused a stir in 1883, in Vienna, by publishing a study in which he described his experiments with cocaine. Later, by the beginning of 20th century, Charles Richet (Nobel Prize in medicine in 1913) described his own experiences after taking biger and biger doses of hashish.

Coming back to Dr Nicolae Leon, he was a Professor (even a Dean for a certain period) at the Faculty of Medicine within the University of Iaşi. The research of his young years on the subject of the “medicine of old wives and witches” took shape for the public in 1903, by means of a well-circulated book, The Natural Medical History of the Romanian People [Istoria naturală medicală a poporului roman].4 Among the dream-like hallucinations experienced by Dr Leon in 1929 as a result of ingesting the extract of black henbane (using a recipe that he had learned from a “Gypsy witch”) there is, according to Dan Petrescu, “a scenario excitingly akin to Gavrilescu’s plights in the short story ‘At the Gypsies’”. The book Notes and memories [Note şi amintiri] by Nicolae Leon was published in the year 1933, while Eliade’s short story came out in 1959. “Will Eliade have read N. Leon’s book,” Dan Petrescu wondered, “and will he have modelled his own experiences after those recounted by this author? It would not be totally impossible, given that Dr Leon already figured among his readings during the years 1920-21.”5

The question whether Mircea Eliade used narcotics in his youth is a legitimate one. The answer is affirmative.
 
India
     
In the spring of 1929, Eliade was 22 years old and he was living in Calcutta, lodged at Mrs Gwyn Perris’s pension of 82 Ripon Street. In a page of his Memoirs referring to that period, Eliade wrote: “It had been a weird week, in which I had encountered all kinds of strangers, male and female […]. Once, being in just such a group, I entered a house in China Town, where one could smoke opium for a modest sum. I discovered that even Mr Perris indulged in this whim on occasion. […] We were on our way home, and it was near dawn. In the car, one of the girls […] warned me once more that I should by no means make known where I had been, but say only that I partied with friends in a bar in China Town. My memories were, anyway, quite blurry as it was. I could not always distinguish what had really happened to me from what I imagined it had […]. I was exhausted, I could feel my head leaning down, and my eyelids as heavy as lead. […] I was trying to persuade them [the hosts] that my exhaustion was due to a glass of whisky that I had drunk in one gulp. It may have been true, but this did not explain the semi-unconscious and fanciful state in which I was almost all the time. I felt that something had happened to me, but I could not remember exactly what.”6
From the text above it can be inferred that the historian of religions had experienced the intoxication with opium, even if the fact is not explicitly declared. In the monograph dedicated to Mircea Eliade, when he refers to this episode, Ioan Petru Culianu sums up the “weird week” in one sentence: “Eliade took part in the irresponsible nocturnal escapades initiated by a German fellow [?], a connoisseur of the indigenous districts [of Calcutta].”7 Nor does Mac Linscott Ricketts enter into any details regarding the experiences of the young Romanian scholar in the Chinese district of Calcutta: “For a week perhaps he lived in a daze, subject to hallucinations and fantasies.”]8

In the matter of narcotics consumption, Mircea Eliade kept quite reserved in the memoirs and diaries published in his mature years, yet we find him more truthful in the diary and the quasi-autobiographical novel that he wrote and published in youth. “Authenticism” was one of the traits typical to Eliade’s writing in the interwar period. Quite often, bravado was an ingredient too.

In his Indian diary, Work in progress (Rom. Şantier, 1935), Eliade describes a few of his experiences with opium dating from the Indian period, especially from the year 1929. At the beginning of that year, freshly arrived in Calcutta, the young PhD student wrote, “I felt a mad urge to leave the books and smoke opium. Yet it was not because of the books. I would have come back to them, later. What I stood in danger of losing was not my spiritual functions – but their significance.” Opium is perceived by the young scholar not as an alternative to study, but as an adjuvant for it. In another note in his diary, at the end of 1929, Eliade recounts an erotic scene that he experienced in a room for smoking opium in Chinatown in Calcutta, after paying “in advance” for his dose of the narcotic. Around the autumn of 1931, before leaving India, Eliade recalls his erotic-narcotic exploits from 1929, “The extraordinary idea that I formed of myself for dining at Nanking, in the midst of Chinatown, and for being able to smoke, if I wanted, all the opium I could have asked for.”9
After the erotic-narcotic exploits experienced in Calcutta’s Chinatown, Eliade began to write at Isabel and the Devil’s Waters [Isabel şi apele diavolului]. Published in 1930, the novel was written in the period April-August 1929, after the experiences mentioned above and, to some extent, because of them. “In order to stop myself from thinking, I kept writing away at Isabel and the Devil’s Waters,” Eliade notes in his Memoirs. “I knew the subject very vaguely. It was about some of my experiences in India.”10 The novel is evidently one with many autobiographical elements. In this particular context, I am interested mostly in two characters: (1) The “Doctor”, the narrator – an alter ego of Eliade’s navigating in the “devil’s waters”, and (2) “Miss Lucy Roth”, who impersonated Stella Kramrisch – a Viennese researcher some ten years older than Eliade, who taught History of Oriental Art. Mircea Eliade had met her in January 1929, at the University of Calcutta, through the agency of his teacher, Surendranath Dasgupta. In the novel, the Doctor and Lucy Roth meet again, coincidentally, at the famous restaurant of ill repute Nanking. “I spent [in Nanking] evenings of frivolous and sincere joy, in the sedate rooms, surrounded by Hindu servants and Chinese mores. I knew the patron and I knew that Mr Chen, the manager, was procuring either opium or Shanghai girls to those accepted.” While Lucy “loved drugs and wine,”11 the Doctor abhorred the “visions sprung out of vicious fumes.” “A dream produced by drugs,” the Doctor said, “is repulsive, disgusting. To me, opium, imagination through intoxication or thorough the exaltation of the senses are base mystifications, mediocre attempts at mirroring a pure world and at transmitting it to the mind by inflicting violence on the cells”. Eventually, the two arrive at Lucy’s house (a genuine museum of Oriental art), when they smoke opium again, this time from a collection pipe. Under the influence of the narcotic, Lucy sexually seduces the Doctor. “Opium intensifies the sensuality of women,” she explains to him later, “and suppresses that of men.”12

“The experience of narcotics completes the picture of [erotic] sensations,” this is how George Călinescu has summarised this epical episode. Mihail Sebastian, too, a friend of the author’s, wrote a comment on the novel Isabel..., surprised by the “violent sincerity of Mircea Eliade’s book”. The story of the book, including the “overpowering orgies in Miss Roth’s house,” may be considered to be “befuddled and far-fetched,” yet in fact – Sebastian concludes – it is “entirely possible” (Cuvântul, issue of May 31, 1930).
In the winter of 1930-1931, when Eliade withdrew into the ashrams that were in the vicinity of the town of Rishikesh, northern India, he served his apprenticeship, among others, with “a Nepalese Brahmacari” – a monk who “tended and picked medicinal plants.” Recalling this episode in his volume of Memoirs, Eliade speaks mostly of “Brahma’s Leaf”, a plant “known for thousands of years in Ayur-veda pharmacopoeia”, renown “for its fortifying qualities” and used “for the treatment of fatigue.”13 On this occasion, the historian of religions wrote and sent for publication in Cluj, to Valeriu Bologa, an article concerning certain items of ancient Indian botanical lore, which came out immediately, in the autumn of 1931. Among other things, Eliade quotes from the book of the 10th-century physician Abu Mansur. Several psychotropic plants are mentioned in this treatise of Irano-Indian pharmacology: belladonna and Cannabis indica (bhang, Skr. banga, Arabic banj). Bhang is a “plant whose seeds,” Eliade comments, “are used as a substitute for opium.” 14

What he dared not recount in his volume of Memoirs (published in his old age), namely his own experience with narcotics, he did in his Indian travelogue (published in his young age). On this occasion, Eliade described several plants with medicinal and hallucinogenic properties from the garden of the Nepalese Brahmacari, including “a species of cannabis that causes an intoxication similar to opium.” “Many of the plants I picked,” confesses Eliade, “I experimented either personally, or in the hospital of Laksmanjula.” Among other psychotropic plants, close to the Nepalese recluse’s hut grew several “bhang bushes” (cannabis indica), “whose leaves,” Eliade writes, “boiled or smoked in a wooden hookah [a kind of narghile – my note] induce a state of torpor much praised by the saddhus, for it is said to facilitate mental concentration and to clarify meditation”.
These pages in the volume India are also highly interesting in virtue of the fact that Eliade tried to describe there (with uncertain language) the mental states that he had experienced during narcosis: “Once I smoked bhang and I recall that I had a vertiginous night, for the sense of space had shifted and I felt so light that whenever I wanted to turn on one side, I would fall from the bed. […] [The plant] bhang has a curious quality to focus and to deepen the thought, any thought that dominates consciousness at the moment of intoxication. Certainly, if it is a religious thought – as it is assumed to be – the meditation is a perfect one. I remember, nonetheless, that I had had that evening a literary discussion with a visitor of the ashram and that that night was for me riddled with nightmares […].”15

In the period 1930-1932, in Calcutta, Rishikesh and Bucharest, Eliade prepared his doctoral thesis. He presented this thesis, entitled The Psychology of Indian Meditation. Studies on Yoga [Psihologia meditaţiei indiene. Studii despre Yoga], in 1933, at the University of Bucharest, in front of a commission presided by Dimitrie Gusti, and published it in French in 1936. A few paragraphs are dedicated there to the way in which Indian ascetics used psychotropic plants: “the majority of the yogi and the sanyasis have been using plant drugs for centuries, in the form of boiled leaves, roots, narcotics – either for precipitating a dubious trance, or for revigorating the nervous system. In Himalayan monasteries, plant drugs are still in use today, a sizable part of which make up the Indian folk pharmacopoeia.”16

When living in Calcutta, at the pension owned by the Anglo-Indian family Perris, Eliade had communicated his desire of purchasing himself a special pipe for smoking opium. His landlady from Calcutta did find one for him, but only after he left for Romania at the end of 1931. On January 7, 1932, Mrs Gwyn Perris wrote to Eliade in Bucharest, “She [a friend] wants to sell the curiosa, a prayer wheel and what you wanted, the opium pipe; so if you want them let’s know and I will let you know the price and will send them on to you [to Bucharest].”17
Finally, in a letter dating from the autumn of 1936, Mircea Eliade attempts to assuage Emil Cioran’s depression by telling him of his own melancholia. “Your sadness distresses me. Truth be told, I have been no better; of late, I have been consumed with melancholia and tempted by tragedy. If only you knew what foolish things I am capable of doing sometimes! […] I cannot tell you what and how. May God spare me from losing my mind in the end.” “But what has got into you?” Eliade continues his letter. And, half jokingly, half not, he indicates a remedy: “Do you not have some opium at hand?!”18
 
Portugal
 
Commenting on Mircea Eliade’s story “A Great Man” [“Un om mare”], the literary historian Matei Călinescu reaches some interesting conclusions. In a text from the diary that has remained unpublished, text dated June 30, 1968 and brought to our knowledge by Mac Linscott Ricketts, Eliade made a note of the fact that the ontophany experienced by the macranthropos created by him, called Cucoaneş, “anticipates Aldous Huxley’s experience, after taking mescaline.” Speaking of the “camouflage of the fantastic in the quotidian” that he accomplished in his short stories, Eliade alluded yet again to Aldous Huxley’s LSD trips, which acted as triggers thanks to which Huxley experienced a “visio beatifica.”19 “I wrote the short story [‘A Great Man’],” Eliade wrote on on the same diary page that I have mentioned earlier, “in February 1945, a few years before Huxley’s experience [with mescaline]. It is no use to explain why. Cucoaneş had had the ontophanic-universal revelation.” Could it not be that by this ambiguous assertion, “It is no use to explain why,” Matei Călinescu wonders, the scholar refers “to a possible experience with drugs made [by Eliade] before Huxley?”20 I have double-checked with Mac Linscott Ricketts (to whom I am hereby expressing my thanks) whether the quote from Eliade’s diary was accurate. In a letter dating from September 15, 2007, the American professor conveyed to me the sentence exactly as it appears in the diary page: “It is no use to explain why Cucoaneş had had the ontophanic-universal revelation.” Yet even in this case, Matei Călinescu’s question remains legitimate.
 The short story “A Great Man” was written in Lisbon at the beginning of 1945, but the writer had actually plotted the subject-matter half a year earlier, in July 1944.21 In his Portuguese period (February 10, 1941 – September 13, 1945), and especially in its last two or three years, Mircea Eliade went through a severe psycho-neurotic crisis. From the pages of his Portuguese diary emerge the reasons for this psychic depression: being away from his home country at a crucial moment in its history, the deplorable collapse of the Legionary movement, the war developments (especially after the fights in Stalingrad, in February 1943), the fall of Hitler’s Germany, the first steps taken towards the establishment of the communist regime in Romania, the tedium of clerk duties, the mediocrity of the Portuguese intellectual circles, his exclusion from diplomacy, the feeling of his own sterility as a writer, the illness and the death of his wife, Nina. I shall not be discussing here the (in)correctness of some of Eliade’s political options. Some of the political causes for the crisis that Eliade went through cannot be sympathised with, while others can be – still, reading the Portuguese diary is an overwhelming experience, because of the immense spiritual suffering that it radiates.
In the Portuguese period (or perhaps only in the period 1943-1945), Eliade treated his neuroses with antidepressant drugs, yet he was extremely discreet about it (just as he was with his opium consumption at the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s). It was discretion both towards the people around him (friends, colleagues, officials), and towards the future readers of his daily notes. Even in his journal intime (which he did not publish in his lifetime), the scholar, as a rule, avoided to tackle this issue openly, as he probably perceived it to be an embarrassing one. As Eliade himself put it, “Even the gaps in a journal intime are revealing. […] There are absences which betray.”22 The entries on this subject in the diary are particularly poor. The feeling conveyed to the reader is that the matter is being kept a “secret” by the diarist, but that – under the pressure of the neurosis – some cursory pieces of information leak through in the course of the diary. Probably sensing the fact that Eliade did not wish for the issue of his treatment with antidepressants to become public, Sorin Alexandrescu completely eluded it in his book on the Portuguese period of the historian of religions.23

On May 14, 1943, Eliade felt himself possessed by Le démon de Midi, speaking of the “poison that is going to be the death of me eventually”. That was “because there is no way to remedy the neurasthenia that is threatening me.” This is the first entry in the diary, an ambiguous one, about an unnamed “poison”. In the summer of the following year (when he glimpsed the subject of the short story “A Great Man”), Eliade perceived himself to be “completely intoxicated”, yet he was unable –even in his journal intime – to speak of the details of the dramatic situation that he was going through: “Completely intoxicated. I do not have the courage to write here,” he notes in his diary on September 11, 1944, “everything that is happening to me. I hope I can save myself! This is not only neurasthenia or fatigue, as I thought. It is, plainly put, a darkening of the mind”. Only a few days later, following a “new attack of nerves, in front of Nina [his wife] and Giza [her daughter],” Eliade went into town to look for “therapeutics in despair”. Psycho-therapeutic substances are thus alluded to this time, although they are not named as such. Yet not even the drug doses he administered himself worked now. “I believe that, except from the Mother of God, there is no hope to be had. My mind is ill.” The only effects seem to be the secondary ones: intoxication, gastric ulceration, vagotonia, as well as “appalling cravings” of an erotic nature.

After the death of his wife Nina (November 20, 1944), Eliade’s psychoneurosis reached its climax. In the spring of 1945 he no longer self-censures himself and writes about this problem in his diary, and even brings himself to state the names of some of the psychotropic drugs “massive doses” of which he took, to no avail. “Today,” writes Eliade on March 4, 1945, “I have had the most awful crisis since Nina’s leaving [dying – my note]. I fell asleep late, around 3 in the morning, and I woke up at 6, convulsed by an infinite despair, compounded by my usual neurasthenia; between 6 and 7 in the morning, I tried in vain to calm myself, taking massive doses of Passiflorine. Despairing, I cried – showing myself to Nina: ‘Look at the state I am in! Look at what my poor nerves are reduced to!’”. A few weeks before this crisis, Eliade had composed the short story “A Great Man”.
Passiflora (or Maracuja) is a shrub originating from tropical America, thus christened (passiflora i.e., “the plant of the Passions”) at the beginning of the 17th century by Jesuit missionaries. The plant’s leaves contain passiflorine, an active substance that is – according to specialists – “similar to morphine”, but which “does not cause dependency”. It is a natural sedative, used in treating insomnia, asthenia, anxiety, and psychical depression. The extract of passiflora is used as a psychotropic remedy in Brazilian folk medicine. There can be no doubt that Mircea Eliade had no difficulties in procuring Passiflorine in Lisbon.

Besides Passiflorine, Eliade administered himself another psychotropic drug, a much stronger one. It was called Pervitin. “For some days now,” Eliade noted in his diary on May 5, 1945, “I have been unable to maintain myself in a state acceptable to people around me except by taking two or three Pervitin pills. I have had some this morning too.” Then later, on May 6: “I did not wish to spoil the party with my melancholia. I took Pervitin, drank champagne and I became once more my cheerful and ‘intelligent’ self from my good days.” The entry in his diary a few days later (May 10, 1945) is grimmer: “The nervous crisis continues. I can only keep myself afloat with Pervitin.”24 Whether or not the fact is of any significance, these were the very days before and after the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.

Pervitin is a methamphetamine that was launched on the German market in 1938 by the Temmler pharmaceutical company. Considered a “wonder drug” at the beginning, tens of millions of Pervitin tablets were planted from 1939 onwards in the back-packs of German soldiers. In a recent study, entitled “Hitler’s Drugged Soldiers”, Andreas Ulrich has tackled this subject.25 Pervitin is an extremely powerful stimulating and stress-reducing drug (similar to cocaine). It raises the adrenaline level, boosts self-confidence, courage and the capacity to focus, while reducing the need for sleep, nourishment, water and warmth. After the side effects of the drug were identified (dependence, alterations of personality, the upsurge of blood pressure, abundant perspiration, psychic disorders, etc.), Pervitin was forbidden for civilian use. Even though the interdiction was enforced by none other than the German Minister of Health (on July 1, 1941, by means of the so-called “Opium Law”), the drug still continued to be dispatched to German soldiers on the front. Eliade must have procured Pervitin tablets on the black market from Lisbon or even from Berlin, either when he travelled there himself (the summer of 1942), or when his wife, Nina, did so (the summer of 1943). It may be that the physician Wagner from Berlin helped him with it, as it is documented that he prescribed Nina injections with an analgesic based on morphine, Eucodal.26

It is likely that Mircea Eliade administered himself Pervitin pills even before 1945. At the beginning of 1944, Eliade wrote the play Men and Stones [Oameni şi pietre] “as if in a kind of trance”.27 The two characters of the play, located in a cave in the Carpathian mountains, administer themselves “Pervitin pills”. Pervitin is represented in the play as a synthetic opiate (sometimes the pills are described as being “heroine” or “opium”). The reasons for administering the drug are different at each of the two characters. The speologist Petruş swallows this kind of pills in order to “vitalize” himself and to cast off “sleep, and exhaustion, and the terror”. The other character, the poet Alexandru (an alter ego of the author), has “fatigued nerves”, and the Pervitin pills “befuddle” him, causing him visual and acoustic hallucinations. The descent into the depths of the cave is for him a descensus ad Inferos, “a descent to the final level of consciousness and of cosmic life.”28
*
As a historian of religions, Mircea Eliade studied the “archaic techniques of ecstasy” (the phrase makes up the exact subtitle of his book entitled Shamanism, published in 1951, although it had already been used by him in the volume Yoga, which came out in 1936) and the intoxications with psychotropic plants in various cultures (Thracia, Iran, India, China, shamanic Asia, archaic Europe, etc.). In the 1960s and 1970s, as a professor in the United States, Eliade was extremely interested in the hippie movement (in which a large part of his students took part) and in the explosion of narcomania among young Americans (and Western-Europeans) of that epoch. Some hippie students recounted him their experiences related to lighter drugs (marijuana, hashish) or psychedelic substances (LSD, mescaline), and he made detailed notes of what they went through in his diary. I have commented elsewhere on the interest that Eliade showed this respect.29 A memory from the second half of the 1960s was recorded by a former student Mircea Eliade’s, the American sinologist Norman Girardot, who was at that time a bearded hippie that intoxicated himself with “mind-distorting herbs” (marijuana, for sure) and, more sparsely, with mescaline. About Eliade’s own habits from that epoch, Girardot does not say much, except that he was “freely smoking a sweetly aromatic and particularly cheap Cherry Blend pipe tobacco”30
This is the epoch in which young American rebels were discovering not only the East (India, first and foremost), but also the “East to the South”, the realm of the Natives of Central America. The main representative of this discovery was the Peruvian Carlos Castaneda, a student in anthropology at the University of California (UCLA). It is quite likely that young Castaneda attended Mircea Eliade’s lectures in the 1960s. Published in the period 1968-1972, his first books describe his initiation by a shaman guru from the Yaqui tribe (Mexico) by means of hallucinogenic plants (the peyotl cactus, or mescaline, datura stramonium). After a period in which he influenced the young generation, Castaneda was strongly contested. The Romanian historian of religions Ioan Petru Culianu, for instance, considered him a “fake anthropologist”, who presented his narco-initiatory fictions as authentic experiences.31 He spoke of the young people “whose idol remains Castaneda: a fraud rather than an anthropologist.” Like Mircea Eliade, Culianu was highly interested in the role played by psychoactive substances in various mythic-religious and magic-ritual manifestations.32 In his monograph on otherworldly journeys, Culianu delineated three distinct modes in which ecstasies and visions are brought about: Altered States of Consciousnes, Out-of-Body Experiences, and Near-Death Experiences. In the first two modes of engendering ecstasies and visions, quite often one resorts to the consumption of psychotropic plants.

 N O T E S
 
* In its first, reduced, form this study has been published in Romanian in the volume: Oişteanu, Andrei, Religie, politică şi mit. Texte despre Mircea Eliade şi Ioan Petru Culianu [Religion, Politics and Myth. Texts on Mircea Eliade and Ioan Petru Culianu], Polirom, Iaşi, 2007, pp. 62-74. It is a fragment from a wider, still unpublished, piece of research, entitled Romanian Writers and Drugs, carried out by the author under the aegis of The National Museum of Romanian Literature.

1. Eliade, Mircea, Jurnalul portughez şi alte scrieri [The Portuguese Diary and Other Writings], vol. 1, edition coordinated by Sorin Alexandrescu, introductive studies, notes and translation by Sorin Alexandrescu, Florin Ţurcanu and Mihai Zamfir, Humanitas, Bucharest, 2006, p. 260.
2. Pamfil, Eduard and Ogodescu, Doru, Psihozele [Psychoses], Facla, Timişoara, 1976, pp. 150-5.
3. Leon, N., Prof. Dr., Note şi amintiri [Notes and Remembrances], Cartea Românească, Bucharest, 1933. See chapter “Ce am văzut într-un vis provocat de un narcotic” [“What I saw in a dream caused by a narcotic”] (pp. 301-9).
4. Leon, N., Istoria naturală medicală a poporului roman [The Natural Medical History of the Romanian People], Bucharest, 1903, p. 29.
5. Petrescu, Dan, “Enigma lui Cucoaneş” [“Cucoaneş’s Enigma”], in Timpul, Iaşi, No. 6, 2003, p. 4.
6. Eliade, Mircea, Memorii [Memoirs], vol. I (1907-1960), edition coordinated by Mircea Handoca, Humanitas, Bucharest, 1991, p. 183. First edition: Mémoire I (1907-1937). Les promesses de l’equinoxe, Gallimard, Paris, 1980.
7. Culianu, Ioan Petru, Mircea Eliade, third edition [revised and amended], translated by Florin Chiriţescu and Dan Petrescu, with a letter from Mircea Eliade and a postface by Sorin Antohi, Polirom, Iaşi, 2004, p. 39.
8. Ricketts, Mac Linscott, Mircea Eliade: the Romanian Roots (1907-1945), vol. I (1907-1933), Columbia University Press, New York, 1988, p. 384.
9. Eliade, Mircea, Şantier. Roman indirect [Work in Progress. An Indirect Novel], second edition, coordinated by Mircea Handoca, Rum-Irina Publishing House, Bucharest, 1991, pp. 27, 98, 153.
10. Eliade, Mircea, Memorii, vol. I (1907-1960), edition quoted, p. 184.
11. In 1985, 55 years after Eliade had published the novel Isabel şi apele diavolului [Isabel and the Devil’s Waters] (1930), Mac Linscott Ricketts wrote to Dr. Stella Kramrisch (the model of the quasi-fictive character Miss Lucy Roth). Among other things, she declared the following to Linscott Ricketts, “Never in my life did I drink alcohol or consume any narcotic drug (nor did I smoke tobacco, opium or Hashish).” See the book at the note 8.
12. Eliade, Mircea, Isabel şi apele diavolului, edition coordinated by Mihai Dascăl, Minerva, Bucharest, 1993, pp. 80-96.
13. Eliade, Mircea, Memorii, vol. I (1907-1960), edition quoted, pp. 209-210.
14. Eliade, Mircea, “Cunoştinţe botanice în vechea Indie. Cu o notă introductivă asupra migraţiei plantelor indiene în Iran şi China” [“Botanical Lore from Ancient India. With an introductory note on the migration of Indian plants into Iran and China”], published in the Bulletin of the Science Society of Cluj, Tome VI, Cluj, October 8, 1931, pp. 221-37.
15. Eliade, Mircea, India, edition coordinated and preface by Mircea Handoca, Editura pentru turism, Bucharest, 1991, pp.121-2.
16. Eliade, Mircea, Psihologia meditaţiei indiene. Studii despre Yoga [The Psychology of Indian Meditation. Studies on Yoga], edition coordinated by Constantin Popescu-Cadem, foreword by Charles Long and epilogue by Ioan P. Culianu, Jurnalul literar Publishing House, Bucharest, 1992, p. 179. In its complete form, the work was subsequently published in French in 1936: Eliade, Mircea, Yoga. Essai sur les origines de la mystique indienne, Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner and Carol II Foundation for Literature and Art, Paris and Bucharest, 1936.
17. Mircea Eliade şi corespondenţii săi [Mircea Eliade and His Correspondents], vol. III (K - P), edition coordinated, notes and index by Mircea Handoca, the Romanian Academy, the National Foundation for Science and Art, George Călinescu Institute of Literary History and Theory, Bucharest, 2003, p. 280.
18. Eliade, Mircea, Europa, Asia, America... Corespondenţă [Europe, Asia, America… Correspondence], Vol. I (A-H), edition coordinated by Mircea Handoca, Humanitas, Bucharest, 1999, p. 155.
19. Eliade, Mircea, (in dialogue with Claude-Henri Rocquet), Încercarea Labirintului [The Trial of the Labyrinth], translated by Doina Cornea, Dacia, Cluj-Napoca, 1990.
20. Călinescu, Matei, Despre Ioan P. Culianu şi Mircea Eliade. Amintiri, lecturi, reflecţii [On Ioan P. Culianu and Mircea Eliade. Memories, Readings, Reflections], second edition, Polirom, Iaşi, 2002, p. 73.
21. Eliade, Mircea, Jurnalul portughez, vol. I, edition quoted, pp. 241, 302-5.
22. Ibid., p. 247.
23. Alexandrescu, Sorin, Mircea Eliade dinspre Portugalia [Mircea Eliade from Portugal], Humanitas, Bucharest, 2006.
24. Eliade, Mircea, Jurnalul portughez, vol. I, edition quoted, pp. 197, 243-5, 335, 361-2.
25. Ulrich, Andreas, “Hitler's Drugged Soldiers”, in Spiegel Online, May 6, 2005.
     26. Eliade, Mircea, Jurnalul portughez, vol. I, edition quoted, p. 246.
27. Ibid., p. 224.
28. Eliade, Mircea, Oameni şi pietre [Men and Stones], in Coloana nesfârşită. Teatru [The Endless Column. Theatre], edition coordinated and preface by Mircea Handoca, Minerva, Bucharest, 1996, pp. 79-109.
29. Oişteanu, Andrei, “Mircea Eliade şi mişcarea hippie” [“Mircea Eliade and the Hippie Movement”], in Dilema Veche, issue 120, May 12-18, 2006, p. 12 and Oişteanu, Andrei, Religie, politică şi mit. Texte despre Mircea Eliade şi Ioan Petru Culianu, edition quoted, pp. 57-61.
30. Girardot, Norman J., “It Does Not Die: Personal Reflections on the End Time of Mircea Eliade”, in Întâlniri cu Mircea Eliade / Encounters with Mircea Eliade, edition coordinated by Mihaela Gligor and Mac Linscott Ricketts, Casa Cărţii de Ştiinţă, Cluj-Napoca, 2005, pp. 68-9.
31.    Culianu, Ioan Petru, Out of this World. Otherworldly Journeys from Gilgamesh to Albert Einstein, Shambhala Publications, Boston & London, 1991.
32. Culianu, Ioan Petru, Expériences de l'extase. Extase, ascension et recit visionnaire, de l'Hellénisme au Moyen-Age, Préface de Mircea Eliade, Payot, Paris, 1984; Culianu, Ioan Petru, Éros et magie à la Renaissance. 1484, Flammarion, Paris, 1984; Culianu, Ioan Petru, Out of this World. Otherworldly Journeys from Gilgamesh to Albert Einstein, Shambhala Publications, Boston & London, 1991.

This essay was originally published in “EURESIS. Cahiers Roumains d’Études Littéraires et Culturelles”,Bucarest, No. 3-4, Automne-Hiver, 2007, pp. 169-181

 
 
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