1) Fumigation, Inhalation

First of all, intoxication could be reached through inhalation or fumigation, which means the plants were dried and kindled in order to inhale the intoxicating fumes. The most famous examples are henbane, the smoke of which inspired the Pythia in Delphi to pronounce oracles;2257 willow bark and leaves, the fumes of which were famous for their prophetic virtues in many ancient civilisations of the European continent; rye ergot, used in initiatory rites; and incense, which has furthered communication with the divine world by creating a state of serenity in many religions since time immemorial.2258 Furthermore, Herodotus, in The Histories, dating from 440 BC, attested that the Scythians ritually put seeds of hemp on red hot stones to produce a steam by which they became intoxicated during funerary rites.2259 It is very likely that this process of intoxication was in use in Celtic times, but there is no evidence of it.


Bilimoff, 2003, pp. 45-46.


Bilimoff, 2003, pp. 61-63. The incense is drawn from the resin of the oliban (Boswellia Carteri).


Herodotus, The Histories, Book 4, 75 ; Godley, 1920: The Scythians then take the seed of this hemp, and, crawling in under the mats, throw it on the red-hot stones, where it smoulders and sends forth such umes that Greek vapour-bath could surpass it. The Scythians howl in their joy at the vapour-bath. The Scythians were an ancient people of Iranian language, settled between the Danube and the Don, from the 12th c. to 2nd c. BC.