I've been thinking about structuring a cult that brews or harvests a liquid drug. That drug is then sealed in jugs and shipped to cities.

The drug gives a sense of complete relaxation but also leads the user to hallucinate a horrible entity, with thousands of closed eyes, that's facing away from the drug addict.

As the addiction grows worse, the figure seems to start noticing the addict and looks him in the eyes, ultimately driving him insane.

In the process of hallucinating the addicts all add a bit of truth and power to the god they dream of, drawing it closer into existence.


closed as primarily opinion-based by Gryphon, Hoyle's ghost, Cyn, sphennings, Culyx Feb 22 at 19:28

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    $\begingroup$ If you have such a god, the answer is "magic." But in general, halucinations like that are not so tremendously precise that everybody sees exactly the same thing. You would have to have more than just the drug to build that kind of coherence... but a god that actually has influence would make that easy. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Oct 20 '17 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ Yep. It's called "Facebook".. ;) $\endgroup$ – Joe Oct 20 '17 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ What about a feedback action in which the God is a feeble residual of an ancient cult, something with Lovecraftian flavour, and as the "dreamers" (or junkies) dream of him he gets stronger and as he gets stronger the halucinations progress as described? $\endgroup$ – Andrea Montalbani Oct 22 '17 at 9:03

What you need is a substance that makes users highly open to suggestion.

If the cult has access to a drug similar to Devil's Breath or LSD (but perhaps affecting suggestability on a deeper/more subconscious level) it could be coupled with simple cues such as pictures/idols of this many eyed god or a description of it to lead users into hallucinating it in all its terrifying glory.

One could imagine that in the drug dens where the liquid is consumed, cultists chant about the greatness of the many eyed abomination and hang on the walls various tapestries depicting its horrifying form.

It might even be that these structures of divided into multiple sections for the various levels of "initiation": once you've had your first few doses in the first area, you're given access to the second section where you're given bigger doses and the drawings/chanting are more grotesque, then after a while you've allowed into third section and so on. By the time that you'd be permitted entrance to the final section (maybe called "the shrine") you'd probably have seen all sorts of gore and animal sacrifice and various other manifestations of cultic madness. And so, already almost completely insane, you'd be told about the mind-tearing glare of the Eldritch horror and... left to drive yourself completely crazy by your own interpretation of the latter.

  • $\begingroup$ This is the solution. A drug that gives everyone the same hallucination is unrealistic, but add to it a dedicated priesthood that uses the drug to create the shared exprience and a world wherein belief can create gods (very Pratchettesque) and this would either be the most closely guarded secret on the planet or everybody would be using it to create their very own divine being. Can you imagine the competition for the most focused suggestion? $\endgroup$ – JBH Oct 20 '17 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ It's a bit of Pratchett but also a bit of Erikson, I love them both as a reader and I was fascinated by the idea of a religion that actually bends reality into creating its own God, even if I believe it wasn't originated there. $\endgroup$ – Andrea Montalbani Oct 22 '17 at 9:06

If the possibility of spirit journeys and visions of supernatural creatures is of interest, I recommend The Carlos Castaneda series. In the first book , Teachings of Don Juan the author goes on psychotropic trips and meets spirit creatures. He analyzes his experiences using anthropology. The scene where he meets Mescalito is memorable in its weirdness. My favorite, though, is when he meets his spirit animal in the 4th book. I think about that all the time.

Castaneda makes clear that the drug itself is just the trigger to cross into non-ordinary reality. His spirit guide the brujo Don Juan does a lot of subtle preparation to make sure that these trips are not random or scary. He prepares expectations in advance through discussion, makes clear what is to happen, and then afterwards there is a debriefing of sort to categorized and move into normal memory the experiences Castaneda has in non-ordinary reality.

So too the vision you wish to produce. It cannot simply be a drug in a bottle and produce a uniform result. You need spirit guides and a uniformity of culture. If there is a culture surrounding the use of this drug and what one can expect to find in the non-ordinary reality it produces, this could produce the homogeneity of experience you are looking for. A culture of people who share their experiences will help reinforce this - it becomes a religion, one component of which is the partaking of this drug. There is much precedent for real life religions that have components of vision quests and hallucinatory experiences.

People visit Mescalito because he can be helpful under the right circumstances. Why exactly anyone would wish to visit your many eyed god is, I suppose, what your story will be about.

  • $\begingroup$ Carlos Castenada was exposed as a charlatan as early as 1973. As they said in newspapers when newspapers meant something: "If the legend and truth disagree, print the legend." His books would be better published as fiction. salon.com/2007/04/12/castaneda $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 21 '17 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android - I did not know but not surprised. Even as fiction, the way he approaches the bizarre and otherworldly from the standpoint of logic and reason is unusual: not a skeptic, not a breathless devotee but one trying to understand. I think the principles laid out as regards spirit journeys still make sense: one needs to somehow integrate the weird with the normal or the weird has no relevance. $\endgroup$ – Willk Oct 21 '17 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ Spirit journeys are intimately connected to shamanism. There is something in our psychology that responses powerfully to them. The most seductive persuasion technique is let people make up their minds based on what they have been feed. Charismatics like Castenada are health hazard. Sadly, I've met a few, and seen the damage they cause. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 22 '17 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ What if the user was given subconscius hints? I mean, what if there were shapes on the drug's container or some words said by the pushers that leaded the user to that specific image in his trip? $\endgroup$ – Andrea Montalbani Oct 22 '17 at 9:10

This sounds like an opioid addiction, opium, from poppy, from pollen. (I think pollen)

Pollen can be widely distributed or collected and intensified. It can have mass effects, or specific effects.

Star Trek Enterprise had an episode on this, seemingly drawn from the Darkover series. (See "Ghost wind.")

The opioid epidemic now is close enough to the idea of giving a god real power, and killing adherents, that this seems like what you want.

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You want your drug to produce not just any hallucination but a specific hallucination. Mundane drugs can't do that, but perhaps nanites could.

Nanites are designed to carry bits of information to the brain. As a result, the brain receives visual and audio information and interprets it as a gigantic god or Monster. Then you have other nanites designed to release naturally calming hormones and chemicals into the bloodstream and you have your God drug.

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    $\begingroup$ Could that be substituted in a less technologically advanced world with a wise combination of smells, tastes and maybe shapes on the drug container? $\endgroup$ – Andrea Montalbani Oct 22 '17 at 9:19

Nutmegs have this feature! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutmeg (see psychoactivity and toxicity)

The active compounds are Myristicin and Elemicin. Besides mostly similar neurotoxic effects, psychosis, anxiety and even sensation of impending doom are dominant. The result is not perfectly identical hallucinations, but they are very close to insanity in symptoms. The shared illusion may be amplified when an audio is played in the room to evoke identical experience. This is not guaranteed, though as individual reactions may differ, at-least in the smaller details.

Edit: nutmeg effects may last for few hours before reaching their peak, and may last for more than a day. Another fast-acting drug, like THC may give the initial effect in your story before giving way to the dreadful effects of the nutmegs. I don't know about drug interaction, but as a general description in the story you can just handwave it.


We've been there, done that, have the holy book.

The Acacia tree

'Moses was high on hallucinogenic drug when he received Ten Commandments,' claims top academic

it was widely popular (still is) in the Middle East. Most of the Christian prophets of the old testament used it regularly, resulting in some weird prophesies. A lot of the old testament is based on it's effects. It is not unreasonable to assume most of the population of the period used it, and it was probably a major factor in the 'miracles' that were witnessed by the masses.

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    $\begingroup$ I'll remove my -1 if you provide credible scientific or archealogical evidence that (a) most of the Tanach prophets wrote under the influence of an hallucinagen and (b) that more than 10% of ancient middle-eastern society used Acacia (much less "most of the population" as you believe reasonable to assume). $\endgroup$ – JBH Oct 21 '17 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ Seems quite a claim, but at last the revelation of Saint John makes sense! $\endgroup$ – Slarty Oct 21 '17 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ @ JBH Follow the link. By a 'top academic'. Is that credible enough? A modern researcher, looking at only the evidence, and the descriptions of the situation, would come to only one conclusion - hallucinogenic experiences based on drug use. The acacia tree was the most prevalent tree in the Middle East, and there are NO admonishments in the Old Testament against drug use. it was a normal, accepted part of life. They didn't even KNOW about drug-induced hallucinations. They called them 'visions'. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 21 '17 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ A similar drug, used almost universally, and documented, is quat. Two other drugs are, of course, alcohol and nicotine. If the drug is widely available, and easily obtained (just reach up to the nearest tree and take a leaf) it WILL be widely used by humans. Period. No exceptions. Pretending otherwise is just folly. Consider that alcohol is a Christian sacrament, and the religion DEMANDS its use. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 21 '17 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ That's an interesting link to our real world, it would make sense and i've also read (even if I can't recall the source, sorry) that a big part of the middle ages religious zeal was due to bad diets and consumption of cereals infected by Claviceps purpurea. But then what i want to find is a way for many people who have little to none communication between them to hallucinate about the same thing, in a seemengly real way. $\endgroup$ – Andrea Montalbani Oct 22 '17 at 9:18

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