Yours, Etc.: Origins and Uses of 8 Sign-Offs
late 14c., "in a frenzy or stupor, fearful, excited," from Old French estaise "ecstasy, rapture," from Late Latin extasis, from Greek ekstasis "entrancement, astonishment; any displacement," in New Testament "a trance," from existanai "displace, put out of place," also "drive out of one's mind" (existanai phrenon), from ek "out" (see ex-) + histanai "to place, cause to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet).
Used by 17c. mystical writers for "a state of rapture that stupefied the body while the soul contemplated divine things," which probably helped the meaning shift to "exalted state of good feeling" (1610s). Slang use for the drug 3,4-methylendioxymethamphetamine dates from 1985.
ecstasy ec·sta·sy (ěk'stə-sē)
A variety of amphetamine narcotic: Ecstasy, by emergency order of the Drug Enforcement Administration, illegal (1980s+ Narcotics)
in mysticism, the experience of an inner vision of God or of one's relation to or union with the divine. Various methods have been used to achieve ecstasy, which is a primary goal in most forms of religious mysticism. The most typical consists of four stages: (1) purgation (of bodily desire); (2) purification (of the will); (3) illumination (of the mind); and (4) unification (of one's being or will with the divine). Other methods are: dancing (as used by the Mawlawiyah, or whirling dervishes, a Muslim Sufi sect); the use of sedatives and stimulants (as utilized in some Hellenistic mystery religions); and the use of certain drugs, such as peyote, mescaline, hashish, LSD, and similar products (in certain Islamic sects and modern experimental religious groups). Most mystics, both in the East and in the West, frown on the use of drugs because no permanent change in the personality (in the mystical sense) has been known to occur.