The Shamanic Virtues of Syrian Rue Plants

What is Syrian Rue?

Imagine a plant that you could use to ward off depression, and which also happens to be a powerful aphrodisiac and psychedelic. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, Syrian rue (Peganum harmala) does just that. The plant is a dense, bright green blooming succulent that grows from a perennial woody root in semi-arid environments. It gets several single white flowers between June and August every year.

The origins of Syrian rue date back to Central Asia, where people respect it throughout Anatolia as a dye plant, an aphrodisiac, and for its medicinal properties. Fun fact: Syrian rue is sometimes called “ruin weed” because it frequently grows among the ruins of ancient cities in the Middle East. It also grows wild in Eurasia and has recently spread to Southern California, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas.

 Traditional Uses

Syrian rue is one of the plants that experts consider to be the original Haoma plant of Persia. People may have used it as an entheogen, a psychedelic substance used in a spiritual, shamanic or religious context. The Koran states that “every root, every leaf of harmel, is watched over by an angel who waits for a person to come in search of healing.” Because of this, dervishes in Bukhara have been known to worship the plant and use it for its intoxicating effects.

People burn massive amounts of incense balls made of Syrian rue seeds as offerings for the festival of Nowruz in Iran. They believe the smoke dispels disease, the evil eye, and all misfortune.

North Africans have used Syrian rue as a medicine and a magical tool for thousands of years. Like in Iran, people use the seeds as incense to ward off diseases and the evil eye. Couples burn a combination of olibanum, alum and Syrian rue seeds on their wedding night as an aphrodisiac.

Shamans in the Himalayas use Syrian rue seeds as a magical incense as well. They inhale it to enter a trance state, where they can make love to divining goddesses. They thought it gave them great healing powers.

Traditional Preparation

An especially effective smoking mixture can be made from the lemon juice and 15 grams of the seeds. Historically, the seeds were ground with a mortar and pestle and put into a boiling pot over an open flame with the juice of one lemon. This mixture was boiled down until the only thing left was a sticky paste. The resin was then mixed with tobacco to make a smoke that is both intoxicating and a strong aphrodisiac.

People in Morocco add Syrian rue seeds to wine to make harmala wine. They also powder the seeds to make snuff that they believe causes a “clear mind.” Up to 20 grams of the seeds can be ground up and eaten to gain psychoactive effects. Be careful, though– this can have toxic results. In large doses, the seeds are known to be hallucinogenic.

Syrian rue is a strong MAO inhibitor, which can bring about serious reactions when taken with certain foods. People usually grind up 3-4 grams and extract it into water, when used as an MAO inhibitor. The seeds are seldom eaten.

Psychedelic and Uplifting Effects

The root and seeds of Syrian rue consist of harmaline, harmine and harmala alkaloids. When people ingest it, the harmala alkaloids act as intensely powerful short-term MAO inhibitors and hallucinogens.

Experts agree that Syrian rue seeds stimulate the imagination, and that they are an effective antidepressant. People who have taken large quantities report entering a dream-like state.

Have you ever taken Syrian rue? What was your experience?

This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Additional image: Flickr