|Several species of lupine (Lupinus albus 1., 1.
angustifolius 1., 1. luteus 1.) are found in the
Mediterranean region. In ancient times, they were
used for medicinal (described in Dioscorides
2.132), ritual, and apparently psychoactive
purposes. The pilgrims who came to the Greek
death oracle of Acheron (near Ephyra, Thesprotia,
northern Greece)-the entrance to Hades-were
required to eat large quantities of lupine seeds so
that they could contact the souls of the dead
(Dakaris 1989). "A strict diet was used to psychologically prepare them for communicating with
the underworld in the narrow passages of the
labyrinthine shrine.... The consumption of the
alkaloid-containing lupine seeds induced in the
pilgrims the state of inebriation that the priests
desired and diminished their faculties of perception,
preconditions that were necessary for the
initiated to be able to feign a genuine communication
with the shadow figures of the deceased"
(Baumann 1982, 146*). Since the oracular priests
jealously guarded their secrets, we unfortunately
know nothing precise about the ways in which the
lupines were actually used (Vandenberg 1979*). It
is likely that, in addition, sulfur was burned as a
fumigant (Dakiris 1989, 160).
According to other sources, the pilgrims ate
not lupine seeds when they visited the oracle but
"pig beans;' which were probably Hyoscyamus.
These induced "states of dizziness, unreal sensory
perceptions, and passivity" (Dakaris 1989, 162 f.).
Lucian described a seance in which the sea onion
was used as a magical plant (cf. moly).
Lupine seeds contain a number of toxic substances:
lupanine, 13-hydroxylupanine, angustifoline,
13-tigloyloxylupanine, albine, multiflorine,
ex-isolupanine, 4-hydroxylupanine, ammodendrine,
anagyrine, and sparteine (Roth et al. 1994,473*).
Lupanine is chemically related to cytisine. A new
lupinine, has been detected in
the yellow lupine (Lupinus luteus) (Murakoshi et
al. 1979). However, nothing is known about the
pharmacology of this substance.
Lupine seeds were once brewed as a coffee
substitute (Coftea arabiea). In Mexico, the lupine
species Lupinus elegans H.B.K. is known as hierba
Ioea, "crazy herb" (Martinez 1987, 427*). It mayhave inebriating effects (cf. Astragalus spp.).
Dakaris, Sotiris. 1989. Das Totenorakel am Acheron.
In Tempel und Stiitten der Gotter Griechenlands,
ed. Evi Melas, 157-64. Cologne: DuMont.
Murakoshi, Isamu, Kazuo Toriizuka, Joju Haginiwa,
Shigeru Ohmiya, and Hirotaka Otomasu. 1979.
(-)-( Trans-4' -~- D-glycopyranosyloxy-3'methoxycinnamyl)-
lupinine, a new lupin
alkaloid in Lupinus seedlings. Phytochemistry18:699-700.