<title>One toke over the line of rational theology</title>
<h2><font face="arial,helvetica,sans-serif">One toke over the line of rational theology</font></h2>
<i>(The illustration shows a grayscale reproduction, 2 x 2-1/2", of a devotional Jesus with large, faint halo, right hand up with palm facing viewer, and left hand pointing to his heart, which has white rays surrounding it and a large 9-fingered cannabis leaf over his heart.)</i>
The anointing oil and incense used by Jesus and his disciples contained an ingredient called <i>kaneh-bosem</i> which has since been identified as cannabis extract, according to an article by Chris Bennett in the pro-drugs magazine<i>High Times</i>, titled <i>Was Jesus a Stoner?</i>
"There can be little doubt about a role for cannabis in Judaic religion," Carl Ruck, professor of classical mythology at Boston University, said in the article.
Bennett suggests those anointed with the oils used by Jesus were "literally drenched in this potent mixture... Although most modern people choose to smoke or eat pot, when its active ingredients are transferred into an oil-based carrier, it can also be absorbed through the skin."
He argues that Jesus anointed his disciples with the oil and encouraged them to do the same with other followers. This could account for healing of eye and skin diseases referred to in the gospels.
"If cannabis was one of the main ingredients of the ancient anointing oil... and receiving this oil is what made Jesus the Christ and his followers Christians, then persecuting those who use cannabis could be considered anti-Christ."
<b><i>And I guess there was the time the disciples all "got the munchies" at Passover? Oh, </i>please,<i> folks, give it up.</i></b>
-- The above is the complete piece from the <b><i><u>Not So</u></i> Good News</b> section, compiled by the Door staff. March/April 2003, p. 40.
<a href="http://www.thedoormagazine.com">The Door Magazine</a>
Chris Bennett's book "Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible" is available through several sources, including <a href="http://www.forbiddenfruitpublishing.com">Forbiddenfruitpublishing.com</a>.
<a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=%22chris+bennett%22+cannabis">Search for "chris bennett" and cannabis</a><br>
<a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=%22chris+bennett%22+entheogen">Search for "chris bennett" and entheogen</a>
Note that some entheogen researchers hold that the bible figures are purely mythical personifications of aspects of the psyche encountered in the intense mystic altered state resulting from visionary plants. As with Dionysus, then, it would be more accurate to speak of Jesus <i>being</i> cannabis and all visionary plants, rather than giving or using them to his followers.
According to this view, Jesus is the personification of visionary plants and the corresponding metaphysical insight about time, space, self, and control that the visionary plants produce. It is profoundly but only figuratively true that "Jesus gives his flesh and blood as visionary plants of salvation and enlightenment to his followers."
The Door, a religious satire magazine, March/April 2003, p. 40 has a half-page article about Chris Bennett's theory published in High Times magazine about early Christian use of cannabis products, with a favorable quote from Carl Ruck. The entheogen theory has been communicated by being publically satirized.
I have asked the scholars to emphasize the use of multiple psychoactive plant products -- that point is too often hidden in footnotes. Bennett tends to portray the Old and New Testaments as being informed *only* by cannabis, but we should think in terms of "mixed wine" which could contain all known plants in combination, including datura, ergot, Amanita, psilocybin, mandrake, opium, alcohol, cannabis, and various other inebriants.
Instead of showing that one religion used one entheogen at one point in time (the start), it's time to show that all religions used all known entheogens at all points in time. It's only modern-era blindness and denseness that makes us so grossly underestimate the extent of use of entheogens. Entheogen scholars ended up selling themselves short, inadvertently ending up communicating the assertion that entheogens generally were *not* used in religion -- the opposite of the intended message.
>Cannabis, strong-drink mixtures, mandrake, and mushrooms all are included in my book and article.
Some of the proof of this is shown below.
http://forbiddenfruitpublishing.com/sexdrugs/intro.html - excerpts:
Next only to sex, do drugs, as in psychoactive substances, play a pivotal role in the development of religion, and the Bible is here no exception. The importance of drugs in religion, like that of sexuality, is often overlooked by researchers who have been imprinted with our Christian influenced societies innate prejudice against these substances. Moreover, without personal experience of the power of psychoactive plants, many researchers have failed to perceive the pivotal role that such plants and preparations have played in religious thought the world over. "All religions in which mysticism and contact with the supernatural play an important part, attribute a sacred character to an intoxicating drink or other intoxicant"(Danielou 1992). The Biblical references to wine, which had become the blood of the savior by the Christian period, clearly falls into this category. The use of wine in the ancient world was "unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour"(James 1929). Even more interestingly, as we shall amply demonstrate on these pages, was the use of other intoxicants amongst the Old Testament Israelites.
Despite the early marriage between shamanism and psycho-active plants that inspired the development of whole religions, naturally occurring botanicals like the psilocybin mushroom, Indian hemp, peyote cactus and similar substances have been condemned as devil's potions and drugs by most religious groups of our modern era. Historically, this situation is an anomaly, not the norm. Prior to the Common Era and throughout the ancient world these magical plants had been seen as sacraments and constituted a very important part of religious worship. In the 1930's respected scholar W.E. Budge commented that, "Many of the ancient herbalists knew that the juices of certain plants possessed properties which produced extraordinary effects when introduced into the human body, and that some might be used as aphrodisiacs, and others as narcotics, and others as stimulants. And the magicians when they were acquainted with them naturally used them in lotions and philters to produce both good and evil effects"(Budge 1930). Some modern scholars have taken this line of thought further, pointing out that the ancients considered these substances to be the sacred food of the Gods, and a means of communicating with the divine. (Schultes and Hoffman 1979; Mckenna 1992; Ott 1993, etc.).
Still other scholars suggest that humanities drive to alter their consciousness is as innate as the drives to fulfill sexual needs and hunger. ... well-known health and drug researcher Dr. Andrew Weil commented, "There is not a shred of hope from history or from cross-cultural studies to suggest that human beings can live without psychoactive substances". (A view that is discussed more fully in Ronald K. Siegel's Intoxication: Life in Pursuit of Artificial Paradise.) ["Artificial"? Jonathan Ott has written a whole book demonstrating how misleading and incorrect that way of thinking is; they are the venerable, classic *natural* paradises. This perfectly demonstrates how today's entheogenists shoot themselves in the foot and are their own worst enemies, inadvertantly entrenching further the dominant paradigm even as they strive to challenge it. -mh]
Etymologist and religious historian John M. Allegro [you see him swinging by the neck in the background, serving to quite effectively officially discredit the entheogen theory of religion by his poor grasp of what entheogenic mysticism is about and his dismissive, disparaging attitude toward the very subject he considered to be a main advocate of -mh] pointed out that our ancestors believed these plants were living gateways to other realms, and thought of them as angels. ... The ancients interpreted the experiences they received from these plant-angels as divine revelations, in much the same way that shamans have done around the world before recorded history, and are still doing in South America, Africa, Asia and even North America today.
Although it is little known to most modern readers, marijuana and other entheogens played a very important role in ancient Hebrew culture and originally appeared throughout the books that make up the Bible's Old Testament. The Bible openly discusses the use of mandrake, which is psychoactive, along with intoxication by wine and strong drink so the Hebrews were more than familiar with altering their consciousness. What will be surprising to most modern readers, is the frequent use of cannabis-sativa, by both the Hebrew Priests and Kings. Indicating, as anthropologist Vera Rubin noted, that cannabis "appears in the Old Testament because of the ritual and sacred aspect of it" (Rubin 1978).
In addition to watching out for the challenges that the mainstream puts out against the entheogen theory of religion, we also need to watch out for the ways in which the insiders, the entheogen scholar community, harms its own cause and unnecessarily unconsciously limits its own effectiveness by accepting far too much of the dominant paradigm.
These scholars can exclaim about my criticisms just as G.A. Wells said about Earl Doherty's criticism of his work: "I am used to being criticized, but not for being too conservative!"
G.A. Wells wrote books asserting that Jesus kind of basically pretty much didn't exist, not in any way we usually think -- whereas Doherty came along and said "enough with the minor corrective epicycles: out with it, admit it, give us a *real* paradigm shift: Jesus didn't exist, period. Honestly and really change your thinking, and quit just shuffling the same old bits around with minor changes."
Then I come along criticizing Doherty as being nothing but a paradigm destroyer, not a paradigm changer, as he recognizes no profundity and relevance for the Christian myth system, and has no more insight than any run-of-the-mill Christian-origins scholar that the myth refers to specific dynamics experienced and understood during intense entheogenic mystic experiencing.
I read much of Chris Bennett's book Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible, and quickly read his High Times article.
Just as James Arthur claims to have "clearly" emphasized the great extent to which entheogens are present in religion, upon closer examination it becomes clear that Arthur and Bennett end up making the same communication mistake and unbalanced thinking mistake as Huston Smith: after a 50% careful reading of Arthur, the reader most likely comes away with the idea that there was a slight presence of Amanita way back only at the beginning of Christianity.
With Huston Smith, one ends up with a similarly tepid impression, that entheogens are an also-ran, barely present throughout the eras of the religions. With Bennett, there is a good reason why the Door Magazine characterized him just like I do: Bennett puts 99% of his emphasis, so it seems, on Cannabis, and only in early Christianity. Arthur puts 99% of his emphasis, so it seems, on Amanita, in several religions, but only way back at the beginning.
Huston Smith, another "defender" and "promoter" of the presence or legitimacy of entheogens in religion, also ends up giving the readers an impression that 99% of religious experiencing and mystic tradition has *not* been entheogenic. If these authors intend to communicate what I am emphasizing, they have failed.
I don't think this is a mischaracterization of the background paradigm behind these books; this accurately describes what is actually communicated in practice by these books.
If their theory is that all combinations of entheogens have been used during all eras of all religions -- which is the radical extremist alternative I am tentatively or experimentally proferring -- they don't communicate that. Bennett *didn't* have that radical theory in mind when writing the High Times article or the book. If he had, that would have been reflected in the Door article.
But no, the Door article exclusively describes Bennett's proposition that Mr. Historical Jesus used cannabis and that the laying on of hands was with cannabis. Not one word about any other entheogen in any religion in any era.
What I am criticizing the entheogenists for, and shaking them to wake them up about, is that they are shooting themselves in the foot (like drug policy reformers do in so many ways) by buying in too fully into the dominant mode of thinking and communicating. The world will never pay attention to the entheogen theory if it is communicated so timidly, with such an exclusive emphasis on one plant such that the others are completely overshadowed.
*No way* does the book or article by Bennett effectively communicate a multi-plant theory -- it's far too exclusively focused on cannabis. It's really time to discard that way of thinking that chronically overemphasizes a single plant, with the others relegated to a footnote. Quit identifying with a single plant, and move on to the "Integral Studies" spirit like Ott, and like Dan Russell -- *they* have the right, more extreme exphasis, probably Ott most of all.
Don't just tack on a bit of use of one plant onto existing, status-quo thinking about religion, and then add an even lesser footnote to that. Like Wilber would say, we need an "all era, all plant, all religion" Integral theory of the role of entheogens in religion.
Amanita is plastered all over Arthur's works. Cannabis is plastered all over Bennett's work. Ergot is plastered all over Dan Merkur's work. They all claim that they have promoted the multi-plant theory -- they are deluded; they are utterly failing to convey the ideas, because they are each in love with one plant only. Ott is different -- he consistently promotes awareness of, and thinks in terms of, the entire pharmacopeia.
Today's entheogen story doesn't work, doesn't fly, doesn't have an impact; look at how The Door magazine waved it aside like a gnat -- Bennett supposedly is the defender and representative of plant mysticism in Christianity, but his approach carries no real weight, because in practice, in real-world communication, it amounts to a theory of a single plant in a single religion in a single period -- *not* a theory of an entire pharmacopia in all religions in all eras.
In claiming the latter, Arthur and Bennett and Merkur are deluding themselves about the scope of their thinking are are claiming credit for more scope than they have effectively ventured -- the broad theory, more on the order of Ott's thinking, is just *barely* present in their works and isn't really communicated at all, any more than Ken Wilber could claim to have "covered" or "included" the Hellenistic Mystery Religions in his theory.
My criticism is a matter of balance: it is totally commendable to focus on establishing the use of one plant in one religion in one era, but eventually the scholars need to adopt a balanced paradigm that assumes the use of all plants in all religions in all eras, and these authors have not produced yet such a balanced and ambitious paradigm, which is why we end up with such effortless dismissals as the Door article.
Such minimalist theories as have been put forward attempt too little in their surrounding framework. Everyone should buy and read these books, but make no mistake, the entheogen theory has barely been hinted at yet, and there is much work at even the most beginning stage of defining the scope of the entheogen theory.
Today's books about the entheogen theory of the origin of religion also need to cover the ongoing nature of religion and the ever-popular use of all available entheogens inside and outside all the major religions in all eras.
Entheogen scholars should be more on guard against inadvertantly supporting the status quo theory which is exactly this: that yes, some deviant groups have sometimes used drugs in some religions, especially in olden days. How could today's entheogen books challenge the status-quo dominant paradigm by merely falling into it? Their little firecrackers bounce harmlessly off the temple walls. The status-quo paradigm can eat ten of these scholars for lunch as an appetizer.
These books and articles so far are utterly failing to communicate, partly because they unconsciously downplay the very thesis they are trying to put forward, while taking for granted far more of the conventional views about religion than the authors realize. If you let the readers retain their overall paradigm of what religion is about, and only introduce a focus on one plant, one era, one religion, it's a no-brainer what the result will be: effortless dismissal; that is how paradigms work.
These scholars severely overestimate their sweep and scope of ambition, and severely underestimate how massive a challenging paradigm must be. No one, no one, understands why it is so important to take on the whole of Christian theology and tradition and history, and transform the entirety of it into a fully entheogenic paradigm (and drag along all other religions as well). Bennett's book was somewhat influential in my studying the whole of the Bible canon.
Bennett thinks he's presented a radical, sweeping alternative paradigm, but it is no such thing, far overemphasizing cannabis, the earliest origins of a religion, and the Christian religion only, while unconsciously accepting as an overall paradigm the status-quo paradigm, which is that a few deviant groups used one drug in isolated heretical cases long ago.
They don't really offer an alternative paradigm -- just a minor modification within the dominant paradigm, which is easily brushed off like a bit of few breadcrumbs off a good Christian's tablecloth.
One kind of serious threat to a new paradigm is a way of thinking that appears to be a new paradigm and thinks it is, but really is just a minor ill-received modification within the same, old, half-baked way of thinking. This is how paradigm replacement works: the new paradigm must be bigger and more encompassing than the old, more ambitious, more cogent and concise, more natural, more everything.
Nothing less than a whole new interpretation of metaphysics, religious myth, the nature of myth, the ever-popular use of every entheogenic plant in sight by everyone, stands a chance when battling the fierce dragon of the established dominant way of thinking. Low-dose theories fail to cause regeneration of the sinner's heart.
These psilocybin caps just aren't cutting it; we need a far stronger drink, a far more efffective potion, to kill the beast of the dominant way of thinking about the role of entheogens in religious history. We need to leave this mellow jazz guitar music played by the Bennett, Arthur, and Merkur brothers, and hook up a chain of guitar amps overdriving each other.
Everyone should buy and read these books and ask what would result by taking their postulates as far as possible:
Mushrooms and Mankind: The Impact of Mushrooms on Human Consciousness and Religion
Merkur's book Psychedelic Sacrament is very important; entheogen use by rabbinic mystics is more important than my review implies. This kind of serious engagement with Western religion is important and entheogenists really must expand beyond idolizing Buddhist mysticism. Entheogenists need to get interested in quasi-official Jewish and Christian mysticism; it's the only possible way to ever succesfully challenge the dominant way of thinking.
The one-topic revisionist scholars think that they have a new paradigm, and it may seem like they do, but really, they don't have anything but the dominant way of thinking, with a minor revision; just a revision of the current way of thinking, not really a new way of thinking.
One of my top priorities is to write a better review that explains why this book is one of the very most important and why every entheogenist should read it *even if* they imagine that they aren't interested in "rabbinic mysticism" -- just like most entheogenists imagine that they aren't interested in "Christianity". They'll never make a difference and challenge the dominant paradigm until the day they *get* interested.
I really need to write more explaining why the most important thing to do is to completely take over the entire nature of religion and the entire history of religion in order to sweep away the completely incorrect dominant, official way of thinking about religion and especially to exorcise that delusion from their own habitual character of thinking, and framework of assumptions.
The existing books have made *no impact* on the dominant way of thinking, because they unthinkingly take too much of the dominant paradigm for granted as the paradigmatic framework in which they put forth their minor revisions of a few points. The problem these authors have on their hands, the only real problem, is how to construct a serious challenger to the dominant way of thinking.
It's been proven by now that this will require far more than the puny, feeble little gnat-like "entheogen theory of the origin of religion". The time is ripe for an actual transformation in thinking, rather than the isolated revision of points that we have become accustomed to under the false and deceptive banner of "revolutionary paradigm shift".
The Psychedelic Sacrament: Manna, Meditation, and Mystical Experience
The Mystery of Manna: The Psychedelic Sacrament of the Bible
Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible
Chris Bennett, Neil McQueen
Purchase: http://www.forbiddenfruitpublishing.com/sexdrugs - intro is online.
It's long, like Dan Russell's book Drug War, but quite readable and makes the scriptures interesting. If you substitute "entheogens" instead of "cannabis" when reading and thinking about this book, this book is an essential key for revealing that the Christian scriptures are inspired throughout. Many of the sex or ritual sex aspects generally concur with studies like "The Historical Mary Magdalene" and Allegro's "The Sacred Mushroom & The Cross". I'm not interested in the subject of sex or ritual sex, but like the subject of astrotheology, ancient religionists were.
Book list: Currently named "Entheogen theory of the origin of religion".
When Amazon fixes a problem, I will rename this to something like "Entheogen theory of religion", "Entheogen basis of religion", or something else implying that real religion has always been about entheogen allegory -- all plants, all eras, all religions, all classes.
The very name of the theory I've been using has a fatal flaw: it asserts that entheogens are only present in a disappearingly small moment: the temporal beginning -- very easy to dismiss as an anomaly that proves the rule that "religions, generally and on the whole, are *not* about drugs, and are about rejecting drugs".
>I found some of your reviews on Amazon.com, and I noticed that you
>just did a review on Chris Bennett's Sex, Drugs, Violence, and the
>Bible. I was wondering if you have ever watched any of his shows at
No, would you recommend some?
A review I posted today. There are presently no reviews. This book is in my Amazon list, "Entheogen theory of religion".
Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible
Chris Bennett, Neil McQueen
Valuable cannabis-focused entheogen theory
Anyone interested in the entheogen theory of religion should get and read this book. It is largely devoted to ferreting out the many entheogen references and allusions in the Bible. It covers most books of the Bible in order.
High-quality scholarship. Aside from some distracting typos, it is highly readable and reveals how interesting and complex many of the Bible stories are. As is standard, it assumes the literal existence of Bible characters -- an assumption which entheogen scholars are increasingly calling into question.
I'm grateful for this book spurring me on to take on studying all the books in the Bible. Highly recommended for entheogen and religion collections -- essential, in fact, especially in light of how few books there are about entheogens in Christianity.
Chris Bennett strives to offer more credible evidence of the use of a variety of entheogens in early Christianity than any researcher to date.
Per Ott, I criticized the word "artificial" in Siegel's book:
Intoxication: Life in Pursuit of Artificial Paradise
Bennett's "Sex..." book is about the Bible, so is focused on the Jews and Christians:
Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible
Chris Bennett, Neil McQueen
For material on a variety of religions and cultures, see:
Green Gold, the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic & Religion
I am considering posting the Door review, which I consider a meaningful weathervane of status-quo thinking and attitudes toward the entheogen theory: many people assume that the theory need not be seriously refuted, because they think it's unthinkable.
I'm finding so many entheogen-diminishing passages in books on mystic experiencing and early Christianity and Buddhism, so many that I'm highly aggravated. This is somewhat of a sign of the entheogens making significant inroads. My driving goal in assessing the situation is to prevent religion writers from so easily getting away with diminishing the spiritual use of entheogens and the entheogen theory of religion.
Almost every run-of-the-mill scholar of early Christianity now is obliged to do the same aggravating dance of "some theorists even put forth such absurd ideas as Jesus leading a mushroom cult". Those mainstream, official scholars then feel that they have safely defused and swept aside the threat of the entheogen theory, which threatens their paycheck and livelihood as explainers of "what the historical Jesus and his beliefs were really like".
One of Bennett's High Times articles mentioned mushrooms, mandrake and other entheogens.
One of the High Times articles:
Regarding the question of to what extent the entheogen theory is being communicated effectively, Bennett's High Times article was coverd in every major newspaper in the world, including the UK Gaurdian, Sunday Times, BBC, India Times, Indai Express, Washington Post, and others.
Bennett's article was likely the most widely covered entheogen story in the last few years.
Access Unlimited has 100 copies of Chris Bennett's book Green Gold; then it will go out of print. He is working on a similiar new book.
Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible is available through several sources. http://www.forbiddenfruitpublishing.com
The author chose not to offer the books through Amazon.
>>New on line documentary disusses the diferent candidates for soma/haoma and
asks, "Can the answer to the soma riddle be found in the archeological
remains of the 4,000 year old cannabis cult in the Kara Kum Desert of
At 9:25 there appear to be a couple Mexican retablo paintings, oil on tin. My page about this:
The program says Amanita is poor at producing bliss. I have only experienced extreme sweating, no psychoactive effects whatsoever. Heinrich reports psychoactive effects; here is my summary of his descriptions; my summary is at
Drank the urine
5 caps, various sizes
Mature specimens, unaesthetic
o Vision logic - "the few thoughts that arose in my mind drifted through like enlightening holograms"
o Thought stoppage (cessation of chain of thought-triggering), one-pointed concentration
o Flooded with light from above, of utmost whiteness
o Passively taken up and absorbed by the Godhead, mystic union/rapture
o Timelessness; cessation of sense of time
o Depression at relative flatness of mundane world after return
o Great revelation of enfolded meaning when reading Gospel of John
No mention of whether fasted
Didn't drink the urine (implied)
1 large cap
Extreme sweating and salivation, hypothermia
Intense recurring nausea and throwing up
Cycles of ego death, nausea, and rebirth
Unable to sit up; hypergravity
Magnification of very near object to appear gigantic
Riot of shimmering unrecognizable blobs of color
Blurred, unable to see clearly beyond 2 feet, lack of definition
The program says cannabis is fragrant and "mushrooms" are not. That is incorrect and an overgeneralization: dried amanita is remarkably fragrant and food-like, like honey. Cannabis does not have a honey smell.
I'm glad to find that a mixture was used for soma (ephedra, cannabis, and opium), as I thought after reading Ott and James Arthur. I considered cannabis drymouth as a complement of Amanita's salivation effect. Eleusis researchers may have mentioned opium as a nausea preventer for an entheogenic blend.
>>There are two main problems, as I see it, with the Cannabis as Soma, idea. First Soma was considered a rarity whose recipe was "lost." Hemp has never been considered "rare."
>>Secondly, the effects, even with a large quantity eaten, do not produce the same kind of processes that occur with other "true" entheogens.
An authority states:
>>>Definite hallucinatory effects from larger oral doses of hashish and extracts have been recorded.
>>>Besides Weil see Siegel's "Intoxication" and the references to Cahagnet's experiments where recipients reported visions of the afterlife. Also set and setting can effect the experience immensely, [an older man] ate a couple of [cannabis] cookies ... and was convinced he was dying until ... explained about the cookies, then he was ... ecstatic ... Classic death and rebirth.
>>The most interesting recent literature I find from David Spess, with his emphasis on the Lotus Plant. He has written a easy to find book "Soma the Divine Hallucinogen," but also two other more, in-depth works, one of 900 pages, that delves further into the pharmacology.
It was great news to find from Spess that the lotus portrayed likely is an entheogen.
Soma: The Divine Hallucinogen
Flowers of Ecstasy & Immortality: The Folklore, Medicinal & Psychopharmacology of Sacred Lotus & Water Lily Plants of Both Egypt & India
Soma: Plant of Immortality - A Comprehensive Study