Religions themselves pose the answer to the drug presence. Notice Dionysis was associated with Mind Altering ectasy? The Oracles of Apollo breathed in the Earth Vapours. The Soma of India that Indra took. However, there were deities that did not communicate through the medium of Drugs. Greeks and the Ancients knew the difference. I believe Mushrooms, Drugs, etc are not the all pervasive answer some had hoped for. There is however the simple introduction of ALCHEMY that does fill that gap. I believe Myths explain alchemy. In fact most alchemists used mythical symbols to hold their secrets. Myth is the quest for ALCHEMY and PURPOSE. So to clarify the answer depends on which archetype you engage in. If you speak of the Dionysian Mysteries, then sure, Drugs and alcohol may have the answers one needs. If you are speaking Hermetic/Hermes, Thoth, Odin ratits, then a different Shaman approach is necessary and that leans towards alchemy. Do you think the Roman Soldiers who worshipped MARS and MITHRA needed to take drugs to be close to their God or keep him sacred? I do not think there is much evidence for that. There are Gods for all occasions. Quite numerous outside the drug equation. Gnosticism for example was written from several sources that reflected a social frustrations. Some sources of Gnosticism were Buddhism, Hinduism, Plato and even Anti-Judaic Philophers despising the growing influence of Jews throughout the Roman Empire. I believe we can neither totally "denounce" or "overestimate" the influence mushrooms, drugs and alcohol play in out in some religious fashion. Have you ever hung around druggies? They aren't bright enough in themselves to be that spiritual to account for all the diverse myths we have today.
As a last response to the drug question in mysticism and mythology, I believe the Book, FROM THE ASHES OF ANGELS by ANDREW COLLINS addressed the issue that some Shamans may have had a drug problem. Breathing Smoke and Fire and having slanted eyes looking grey and pale sounds a similar to an advanced tribal culture with ancient drug experience and their careless influence on other tribes that the Book of Enoch would explain. Fallen Angel Shamans on Drugs. It's an intriguing theory. Perhaps the story tellers were sober though.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.