Thanks! I suspect cannabis is most powerful when it’s vaped and when it’s rarely used. I agree that we shouldn’t necessarily use entheogens and even more so, that we shouldn’t use them often. What I think matters more to the origin of religion is the altered state of consciousness or the “religious experience,” not the actual cause of it.
I’m aware there are other ways of producing that experience, besides the ingestion of a psychoactive substance. In another of my articles that goes into this topic, The Psychedelic Basis of Theism, I say, “The earliest religions were shamanic rather than organized, meaning that they were led by solitary figures who acted as magicians and doctors and whose power was thought to derive from their special relationship with the spirit world. The shaman delves into that world by ingesting psychoactive drugs or by fasting, rhythmic chanting, or hyperactive dancing to bring on visionary states of consciousness.”
I wonder, though, what would cause the “enlightened” state without some such shamanic technique or without what conventional society would call a mental disorder such as epilepsy.
Calling the transcendent mental states “natural” seems tricky to me, although this may be just a semantic point. If intelligent creatures don’t belong in nature, in the physical universe that science explains, what’s “natural” or best for us would be unnatural to that universe. So we’d have to be careful in explaining what we mean by “natural” here. I think you mean “natural” as in “inherent” rather than artificial or learned. When we’re enculturated and domesticated, we learn to function in society, which distracts us and separates us from the childlike sense that the world is enchanted.