Matthew Clark

Matthew Clark

Dr Matthew Clark (MA, PhD) has since 2004 been a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where he taught Hinduism between 1999 and 2003. Since 2002 he has been lecturing on yoga at yoga centres in the UK, Europe, Israel, India, and the USA. He has published articles and books on yoga, soma, and sadhus (yogis). His latest book (The Tawny One: Soma, Haoma and Ayahuasca, Muswell Hill Press, 2017) explores the botanical identity of soma/haoma, the sacred plant (or plants) used in the rituals of Zoroastrians and by the brahmins of South Asia in the rituals of the Vedas. It is argued in the book that soma/haoma was most probably an ayahuasca analogue made from a variety of plants. Matthew has been visiting India since 1977, visiting around 1,000 pilgrimage sites and trekking about 2,000 miles in the Himalayas. He also writes songs, plays guitar, and makes records as Mahabongo.

“Soma and the nectar of immortality: Ayahuasca analogues in the late Bronze Age”

The soma/haoma plant (or plants) is considered to be sacred in the religious texts of both Zoroastrians (in the Avesta) and the brahmins of South Asia (in the Vedas). These texts date back to 1600 BCE. Many dozens of theories concerning the botanical identity of soma/haoma have been proposed over the last 250 years. In my recent book (The Tawny One: Soma, Haoma and Ayahuasca, Muswell Hill Press, 2017) I suggest that soma/haoma was most probably a concoction of plants that acted as ayahuasca-like analogues. I believe that this ancient knowledge of the interaction of various psychoactive plants was also the basis of kykeon, the portion administered at the ancient mystery rites of Eleusis and elsewhere in the Greco-Roman world. This was the nectar of immortality.