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Atlantis and the Origin of Drug Cults

A book I started compiling about Atlantis

Several years ago before I moved to Tenerife, but after I had visited the island, I became friendly with the now late Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos who was an expert on Atlantis. Prof. Santos had researched Atlantis for over 20 years and had many files and texts he had written.

The idea was hatched for me to compile them into a book or books as a collaboration between the two of us. The professor believed that the Atlanteans had developed and cultivated many of the herbs that are used today as entheogens, and also that some religious rituals later were based on what had happened to Atlantis. He wrote about the mysterious Soma and about Peyote, Salvia divinorum, Cannabis, Morning Glory and other hallucinogenic plants.

I made a start on the book but had to give up because there was simply too much material for me to edit and link it all together, and I was already busy with other projects. Fortunately, years after I abandoned this, Prof Santos managed to get a book sorted out and published, which I have written about in another hub. I am presenting here the original unpublished chapters that I did manage to put together.

Atlantis book by Prof Arysio dos Santos

Professor Arysio's book on Atlantis

Professor Arysio's book on Atlantis

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Priscilla Hernandez

Singer-songwriter and artist Priscilla Hernandez

Singer-songwriter and artist Priscilla Hernandez

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King Arthur

King Arthur Pendragon- the sword and the stone

King Arthur Pendragon- the sword and the stone

Guanche symbol

Guanche pintadera (artistic seal or stamp). Photo by Steve Andrews

Guanche pintadera (artistic seal or stamp). Photo by Steve Andrews

Dragon Tree

Dragon Tree in San Juan del Reparo in Tenerife. Photo by Steve Andrews

Dragon Tree in San Juan del Reparo in Tenerife. Photo by Steve Andrews


ATLANTIS is what this book is about and is the first word in this introduction, and Atlantis is where the authors believe that all our civilisations, our religions our cultures, our history began. Not as a myth or a legend but as a reality.

Now, whether you believe in it or not, I am sure you are thinking why do we need yet another book about Atlantis? Well, the answer is that this book is very different to all the rest. Besides the location of the submerged continent, much will be revealed about an issue which affects everyone, namely drugs.

War on Drugs

The so-called “war on drugs” and the debates about social problems associated with drug abuse continue and the drug issue touches the lives of people worldwide. This book is not going into the rights and wrongs of recreational drug use, but seeks to comment on the history of the substances used and to look at their usage in ancient cultures.

Many people may feel that the utilisation of drugs for purposes other than medicine is mostly a new problem of the modern world, but the use of herbs with narcotic, stimulant and hallucinogenic properties has nearly always occurred wherever humans have lived in any numbers. The ancient empires and civilisations were no more immune to having drug culture and usage than we are today. Further it seems highly likely that herbs like cannabis, datura, salvia divinorum and morning glories, amongst others, were cultivated, and, we would suggest, selectively bred by the first mighty civilisation on this planet, that of Atlantis.

Their use continued after its destruction and in many instances became bound up in and an integral part of religious ceremonies practised by many groups of people.

Well, that is a very brief outline of what this book is about. For me, it has been a very difficult task to decide what goes in and what gets left out. The bulk of the text will be taken from over 20 years of scientific research by my co-author, Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos. Arysio has a vast amount of work compiled on the subject of Atlantis and has made some startling discoveries. One section alone has over 128,000 words, and there are many sections, so you will perhaps understand my problem. I have likened it to attempting to edit into a single volume the entire history of the world! We hope that future volumes will be able to expand on our theories in more depth.

Nuclear physics

It is important to understand that we are both looking at the subject from totally different backgrounds. Arysio is a nuclear physicist and trained scientist and academic, whilst I am an author of works on herbs used in shamanism and a poet and singer/songwriter. Whilst Arysio’s pathway in life has been scientific and involved long hours of detailed research, mine has been creative and with a definite affinity for the mysterious, the spiritual and the supernatural.


I was once a member of the Gurdjieff work, a school of esoteric knowledge discovered in the East and taught originally by Gurdjieff, who has been described as a Russian mystic and philosopher. I have had a very strong interest and experience in subjects like ufology, conspiracy theories, the paranormal, paganism, and druidry. I am a druid myself being a member of several British druid orders. So I had already formed beliefs and ideas about many subjects that are not exactly mainstream fare. Atlantis has long been a reality to me but as to where it was and what happened to it, well, that has been a matter I was undecided about.

Arysio had approached the idea of Atlantis from a sceptical and scientific point-of-view, and he started out as a non-believer in its reality, but as his researches took him deeper and deeper into all manner of esoteric schools of thought, he found more and more pieces of a vast jigsaw, that began to make sense and to reveal a staggering amount of information. Arysio became firmly convinced that Atlantis had definitely existed many thousands of years ago. He found himself on a quest, a search to discover all he could about it.

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King Arthur

I have long had the view that life itself can be thought of as a quest, and I was happy to take the title of Quest Knight in the Loyal Arthurian Warband, a druid order, whose titular head is a man believed to be the actual reincarnation of King Arthur. There are Knights and Ladies of this order, who believe themselves to have lived at the time of the legendary Celtic chieftain, back in the Dark Ages. Members are sworn to uphold the Ancient Virtues of Truth, Honour and Justice. The origins of Druidry are very firmly in the past but are being interpreted and followed in the present.

Priscilla Hernandez

The past was about to intrude into the present in my life too but in another way: I had gone on a visit to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, primarily to see my friend Priscilla Hernandez, who lives there, but while finding out more about the island and its history and while actually there,

The Guanches

I began to feel that I was on some sort of quest and to discover information about the mysterious Guanche people who lived in Tenerife before the Spanish invasion so long ago. The Guanches are thought by many people to have been in some way linked to Atlantis, possibly as survivors who escaped its destruction. They were a tall blue-eyed people with reddish-blonde hair and these characteristics set them clearly apart from the negroes of mainland Africa. It is said that they were not a boat-building people either, so how did they arrive there?

Dragon Trees

Also, while in Tenerife I became fascinated by the dragon trees (Dracaena draco ), which grow all over the island. I found out that these trees were once used by the Guanches for their resin, which was utilised for embalming purposes.

With a mind racing with thoughts about Atlantis, Guanches and dragon trees, I returned home and began to do some of my own research on the Internet and in books. I discovered in A Modern Herbal by Mrs M. Grieves, that the dragon trees also grow in Indonesia which is a long way from the Canaries. Then I happened upon Arysio’s website about Atlantis and it was there that I discovered that Indonesia is precisely the area where Arysio believes that Atlantis once was. The pieces of the same jig-saw were falling into place for me too! I became inspired with the idea of wanting to write a book on the subject of Atlantis and I contacted Arysio to tell him of my plan. Arysio suggested that we collaborate and that perhaps I could edit and compile some of his research into one volume. The book you are about to read is the result. Please treat it as a journey of discovery.

1997 Interview with Prof. Arysio Santos - Atlantis, The Lost Continent Finally Found

Salvia divinorum

Salvia divinorum plant.  Photo by Steve Andrews

Salvia divinorum plant. Photo by Steve Andrews

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Datura stramonium. Photo by Steve Andrews

Datura stramonium. Photo by Steve Andrews


Today, many people may know ‘Soma’ as the new drug, Carisoprodol, which is widely prescribed as a muscle relaxant. However, the ‘Soma’ that we are writing about is not this. Rather it is a mysterious substance or herb which was considered sacred and the source of enlightenment and much more. Arysio has come up with a new theory as to its true origin, as well as identifying different types. However, the ancient ‘Soma’ had something in common with the modern medication because it too had narcotic properties. If, as is believed, this ‘Soma’ was the source of inspiration and gnosis in Atlantean times and later, then clearly it has had a big influence on cultures and religions that were started then and have been handed down to us in recorded history, oral tradition, folklore and myth.

Holy Communion

Myths work at several different levels, and must be interpreted taking this into consideration. For instance, the word ‘Soma’ means at least three different things: 1) a beverage taken in some form of Holy Communion, more or less, as in the Christian Eucharist; 2) the Moon and 3) a god much like Christ.

With regard to this ‘Soma,’ dozens of herbs and fungi have been identified as the possible plant: asclepias acida , ephedra, the sacred mushroom, opium, cannabis sativa , sarcostema viminalis , triticum oestrum , etc., but in reality, the ‘Soma’ plant was probably none of these. ‘Soma’s’ main component was in fact – at least in the masculine version, which was the one which really counted for the true initiates – datura, a plant also used in America for the same purpose and probably originating there, as some qualified experts have recently concluded.

Salvia divinorum

It is interesting to note that many hallucinogenic plants were used in the New World in rituals which closely parallel the Hindu one of ‘soma’ preparation, itself resembling the Holy Communion of the Judeo-Christians. One such is ‘pipiltzintzintli’ . Sahagun and Cardenas both refer to an unknown plant they call ‘poyomatli’ or ‘poyomate’, which they group with along with other hallucinogens. This plant, Gordon Wasson sugggests, is Salvia divinorum , used even today by the Mazatec Indians of Mexico’s Sierra Madre and also available from ‘head-shops’ and suppliers of ethnobotanical herbs in Europe, America and in some other countries, where it is legal and is being rediscovered by neo-shamans and ‘psychonauts.’ Salvia divinorum is, however, illegal in Australia, and is the focus of much ongoing debate and interest.

It is also called ‘hojas de la pastora’ (‘leaves of the shepherdess’ in Spanish). Salvia divinorum is described as a herb (‘hierba’), and is never called a ‘hiedra’ or ‘bejuco’ (vine), unlike the morning glory. The plant was cultivated by the Indians, and is unknown in the wild. It was used in divination and in shamanic rituals. Like the ‘soma’ plant, salvia divinorum can be ground in a ‘metate’ (mortar), strained, and drunk as an infusion, although a very large number of the leaves is needed when using this method of preparation or it will have little effect because the active substance in it, which is known as salvinorin A, is not able to be absorbed through the stomach, but only via the mucous membranes of the body, or if inhaled. A more common method of consumption is by smoking and again this method can be used for datura.

The other versions of ‘Soma,’ served the lesser degree initiates, varied according to rank, and mainly consisted of cannabis, opium, ginger, and even spiced beer or wine, at the lowermost degrees. ‘agallochum’ (aloes wood) and ‘bdellium’, its resin, was also used as the source of a potent hallucinogen highly esteemed in antiquity. Aloes gum is the ‘algum’ (or ‘almug’) of the Bible, and the ‘bdellium’ of Greece sources. Its leaves are thorny, and may hence be connected with the thorny ‘Soma’ plants mentioned in some scriptures. Datura is, of course, also known as ‘thorn-apple,’ due to its spiny fruits.

Aloes and ‘bdellium’ were also used as a medicine and a hallucinogen. ‘Agallochum’ is a perfumed wood used as some sort of incense or as firewood, particularly for sacrifices and rituals. It was very much used in antiquity and receives, in the Bible, etc., the names of ‘algum’, ‘almug’, ‘agalloch’, ‘agaru’ (Skt.), ‘agalu’ (Pali, Pak., etc..). ‘Agallochum’ (aloes) was the wood that Sindbad used in order to build the boat in which he was able to escape from the mysterious paradise island in which he was stranded, more or less as Gilgamesh and Enkidu also did. And it is also the wood preferred by witches such as Circe and Calypso.

This seems to be connected with the application ultimately envisaged by Ishtar-Innana for the ‘hallupu’ tree in the Mesopotamian myth, perhaps in order to acquire power by means of the magical nature of her throne. ‘Agallochum’ produces ‘bdellium’, a substance use both as a potent medicine by witches (shamans) and as an unguent possessing magical properties. Powdered aloes wood is used in witchcraft and it is also used for invoking the dead and for other similar shamanic purposes.


Shiva – the great Dravidian god who is in many ways associated with ‘soma’ – was identified with a poison, ‘visha’, which he drank in order to save the world. Shiva is even today worshipped with datura, particularly the flowers, in order to invoke his more tame and less sombre disposition. This poison drunk by Shiva at the ‘Churning of the Ocean of Milk’ is also called ‘Kalakuta’ (‘black crest’ or ‘Shiva’s tuft of hair’), presumably because of the purple color of its flowers.

Alternatively, hallucinogenic drugs were obtained from lysergic-acid-amide-containing herbs of the morning glory (Ipomoea ) family. They apparently originated and were domesticated in South America, where many wild members exist, in contrast to the Old World, where they do not. The plants, as well as their use, passed to the Old World via Polynesia in times which far predate Columbus’ infamous discovery, as is fast becoming evident to all.

Paul Rivet

Such is particularly the case of sweet potato which was long used all the way from the Americas to the East Indies. In fact, sweet potatoes are called by the common name, ‘kumara,’ all over the eastern half of the world, as Paul Rivet and other renowned anthropologists, have long been arguing. In the light of this evidence, how can pre-Columbian contacts ever be denied except by the most diehard of academic scholars and of Christian priests bent on enforcing theories that have long been superseded by the hard evidence of scientifically established facts?


Datura is often said to have originated from Shiva’s coke or crest, precisely the meaning of the name given Shiva’s poison (‘Kalakuta’). And this plant is still, even today, (secretly) used in the ‘soma’ rituals, particularly the ones of a Tantric character, in South India. However, cannabis is also used for the same purpose, in order to placate the god.

© 2010 Steve Andrews


Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on April 02, 2012:

Thanks for your feedback!

Woody Marx from Ontario, Canada on April 02, 2012:

Now drugs are a subject I am familiar with only when they have a prescription label, but that doesn't mean I wasn't impressed by the connections you outline concerning 'other' drugs of the mind-expansion variety. I am certain that ancient civilizations were expert in using these as helpers and as perhaps inspirational aids, in envisioning such things as the building of the pyramids, and who knows what other remarkable and inexplicable achievements they accomplished? Lots to speculate on I'd say!

lynne on February 07, 2011:

Fantastic! There is a whole global maritime civilisation buried under the sea on our continental shelves.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on October 14, 2010:

Thank you for posting!

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on October 13, 2010:

Absolutely fascinating. Thank you for the insight.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on June 03, 2010:

You're welcome!

pinkhawk from Pearl of the Orient on June 03, 2010:

...this tickles my many questions in my mind..^.^.. can't exactly remember my history lesson before about atlantis...thank you for posting Sir!^.^

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 29, 2010:

Thanks for your thoughts on it all!

Leslie McCowen from Cape Cod, USA on May 28, 2010:

This guy I work with from Nepal says that Dunkin Donuts puts soma in their coffee!!

And I think Lemuria is the kinder/gentler Atlantis....broke away after the power-mongering began and eventually destroyed everything.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 26, 2010:

Thanks, Ben!

Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on May 26, 2010:

Very cool bard, interesting items, I would buy this book. Atlantis has long held my interest, I always figured there was a chance that America itself was the original Atlantis, lost to so-called civilizations thousands of years ago, then "re-discovered" by lost Spanish merchants later on.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 26, 2010:

Thank you and I am following you back!

BumptiousQ from Asheville, NC on May 25, 2010:

Fascinating, Bard. You're a bard to follow.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 25, 2010:

The book that is illustrated is Arysio's but he won't be able to enjoy its success as sadly he died. The book I was doing in collaboration with him never got past what is posted here and another chapter taken from his website which I am not posting because it would be duplicate content.

markbennis on May 25, 2010:

Great article and good luck with the book I'm sure it will do very well. I love mythology and the ancient worlds, history has its way of showing itself, like Sumeria and Babylon plus others have only really just come to light with archaeological facts. I believe Atlantis will be like those in the past that will reveal itself soon, history has a habit of revealing itself when it is ready, Atlantis will be the shocker of them all. I'm learning and believing each day mythology = History = fact. All the best mark.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 25, 2010:

Plato is where the professor started! Thanks for posting, Varenya!

Varenya on May 25, 2010:

Very interesting!!! However I think we will never see the ruins of Atlantis and the archaelogists will never be able to find any trace of this earlier civilization: remember what Plato wrote about it...

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 25, 2010:

According to you!

tempo dulu on May 25, 2010:

Santos has failed to test his research findings against archeology: there is NO evidence a high civilization in Indonesia actually existed 11,600 years ago. In fact, at that time, people in the Indonesian region were still hunters and gatherers.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 25, 2010:

Thanks for the feedback, GL, William, BJ and CM!

Datura is very a dangerous hallucinogen that became popularised to the hippie culture by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson and Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda.

William if you refer to Arysio's site he covers the point you make in the FAQ there saying that Lemuria/Mu was an earlier civilisation. See

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on May 25, 2010:

Very interesting Hub on Atlantis and the use of drugs in ancient times. It just shows that there really is nothing new under the sun. It will be fascinating to see if we ever find the site of Atlantis, and what new knowledge the excavations would reveal

BJBenson from USA on May 25, 2010:

I hope it is found before I die, I have always found the subject something to sit and ponder about and wonder what those people were really like.

William Bond from England on May 24, 2010:

So why call the sunken lands around Indonesia Atlantis and not Mu or Lemuria? Or could it be that Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria are all the same place?

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on May 24, 2010:

Very interesting Bard and quite a history. I'm familiar with many of the plants you describe but never knew how potent they were. Always thought Datura was poisonous, but I guess it's all in the alchemy! As for Atlantis, I'm a believer..also think USO's are still happily residing under the sea.

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